I wanted to follow-up last week’s article we ran on the shooting death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton..It was titled ‘How many Black Children Must Die Before We get a Sandy Hook Response‘.. . It was written by community activist La’Keisha Gray-Sewell who heads up the organization Girls Like Me..In the article she spoke about the urgency that displayed in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy in Newton, Ct..
She stressed that while it would be great to have that type of societal response, the reality is in America where Black folks are scapegoats and their concerns often dismissed , we will have to amount a Sandy Hook response ourselves. We will have to put forth an urgency that leads to us ending violence that plagues our community..
We brought La ‘Keisha on our radio show and here’s what she had to say with respect to her widely read article..
Since that interview there’s been a big push to get president Obama to come back home to Chicago to address the issue of Gun Violence..Over the weekend Cathy Cohen who heads of the Black Youth project appeared on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris Perry Show to explain whats going on and why the push:
Asked what such a speech could accomplish, Cohen said Obama can use his “bully pulpit” to “rally the country to understand this issue,” as well as help to encourage groups to coordinate on fighting gun violence.
“symbolically,” people have seen Obama in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., as they should have — but Chicago needs to feel that “our children are worthy also.”
She said that in addition to the short-term need to reduce violence as quickly as possible, “This is about also young people that don’t have jobs and who don’t see a future. This is about young people who don’t, in fact, have quality education. We have almost 50 percent of young African-American men not graduating from high school, right. There are immediate issues that have to be dealt with and then there are broader, longer structural issues. And we have to hold the mayor accountable, but we also have to hold the president accountable.”
You can peep the video and accompanying article and information on the petition HERE..
One thing that comes to mind when seeing folks having to petition President Obama to come to Chicago and address the fact that since the start of the new year 43 people have been shot and killed in the Windy City. The fact that he hasn’t shown up on his own and has to be pushed and agitated speaks volumes. It’s a stark reminder that Black people and Black death are still toxic in political arenas and when they are spoken about its done after being weighed from a political lens..In other words there’s a lot of concern about how a Black president addressing gun violence in the Black community will play out in the mainstream..
While I understand the importance of pushing this President to do what he should do intuitively so that money and resources could be released to address the situation, there is a still a need to be cautious..Will Obama use the backdrop of Black shooting deaths in Chicago to heal those who have been traumatized or will he use this as a way to further criminalize youth as he emphasizes, law and order?
Yes those who have guns and do violence in the hood need to be stopped and held accountable.. How will that happen? Will it be more militarization of the police? Will it mean entire communities and groups of people being subjected to profiling tactics, increased surveillance and stop and frisk type tactics?
Personally I think our communities need to be healed and people need to be made whole, where we embrace life versus dissing it.. We have to get to the root causes of violence and hopefully if Obama does come to Chicago, thats the direction he’s pushed in vs wanting to lock everyone up..