Sidenote: I wrote this piece a day after Thanksgiving. I talked myself out of publishing after reading so many much better post about this issue written by fellow ChicagoNow bloggers. But, I talking myself back into hitting the send button today since this is certainly an ongoing issue.
As a part-time Chicago resident that's constantly coming and going, I'm removed from local politics and other Chicago happenings on a daily basis. Quite frequently, I still feel like a tourist in this city. To top it all off, I live on the Northside close to O'Hare airport which makes it easier to remain isolated from the violence that plagues the Southside at an alarming rate.
Staying detached from local issues would also be relatively easy if I wasn't for the fact that I'm a a bit of a news junkie. So, often in between flights, I'm reading discarded passenger copies of the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times rather than engaging in mundane co-worker chit chatter.
Most importantly though, seeing brown faces on the news that look like mine, unprecedented levels of violence and poverty on the Southside Chicago are issues that are hard for me just ignore. So this is not an airplane issue, nor funny airplane story. It's simply the opinion of one black woman that also happens to work as a flight attendant.
For this post, instead of writing about how to survive the holiday travel season or my 2016 vacation goals (which I wills write about eventually), I want to revisit my post I wrote earlier this summer about why Chicago is better than Atlanta. This time though, from a different perspective given the current Chicago headlines of the past few week's which includes the release of multiple police shooting videos (that keep coming), the firing of the city's police chief, and the outrageous levels of community violence. The last one has been happening for quite sometime.
As I'm learning more and more about the city, I'm not so sure anymore if Chicago is better than Atlanta. Particularly as it relates to race relations and gun violence, it certainly doesn't seem to be. From conversations with co-workers and local strangers, prejudice attitudes, ignorance and indifference remains prevalent. Not to say in this matter that Atlanta or the South in general is any better. In the south, prejudice and institutional racism is still very much present as well, at times it's even sugar-coated at times with a " Bless his/her heart"
In the North, South, East and West of this country, detrimental attitudes, behaviors and apathy still exists.
Over the past few months, I have constantly been asking myself more and more what is up with Chicago and the gun violence on the Southside? Having studied sociology and journalism in school I understand in a general sense the socio-economic inequalities that contributes to this. However, with Chicago being the hometown of the nation's first black president and marketed as such a progressive city, the levels are beyond the point of ridiculous, senseless and plain unnecessary. And the fact that Chicago Police officers are contributors to this current state!
So the more important question that I now am also asking is what's up these shady politicians who allow for such violence and institutionalized police misconduct to persist? What's in it for them? It is saving political face with talk rather than a commitment to producing sustainable results? What can I as a North-sider, part-time resident, constant traveller, black woman, American citizen and flight attendant do that contributes to the solution?
I don't have the answers yet, and my opinions are still incubating. I still like Chicago but the love affair is certainly over.
As I'm reading more about the recent happenings and the political shenanigans taking place, my perspective broadens. I'm encouraged by the local and national protests that took place over Thanksgiving weekend. I don't think one firing will end the solution but perhaps it's a start. The federal investigation is another step in the right direction along with continued protests.
I'm eager to see what the New Year will bring as it related to accountability, activism and meaningful change to this midwest town that I now call home.
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