Friday, March 20, 2009

Flying Under The Radar

Clearly I have not been paying attention to the goings on in the neighborhood.

It might have been because I was (am?) putting my life back together after 11 months of unemployment (Note: Not as easy as one would think).

Or it might have been the brutality of this slow moving winter and my knee injury.

Or it might have been because my head may have been firmly ensconced up my ass.

Either way, I had no clue that there was (is) a gang turf war in our little patch of heaven.

At least I didn’t know until it erupted on Monday night resulting in the shooting death of a 15 year old.

While the violence was a shock, I was fully prepared for the negative comments that usually accompany the subsequent Tribune and Sun-Times stories about the incident.

Luckily, the Tribune disabled the comments section by the time I had read the article.

Perhaps they already knew the caliber of commenter and simply disabled the ability to comment from the beginning.

No matter how you feel, someone’s child is dead.

While the consequences that led up to that fact are important, at the very least you should err on the side of respect.

Yes, I understand that some people cause their own problems.

But a majority of comments on articles about urban crime are mean and tip toe right up the line of being racist.

So it was with this in mind that I steeled myself after reading the Tribune’s article.

But it was all for naught.

I will say this to you who feel that “some people,” specifically black people, don’t care about the communities where they reside.

Let me preface my statements by affirming that while I may speak for myself, I also happen to know a huge swath of other black folks who feel as I do.

Yes, we care about where we live even though some may not think so.

Yes, we call the police.

In my experience the places that are usually the worst on the block are owned by either people who live in the suburbs or well meaning social service agencies.

Ironic, huh?

So the suburban neighbor that you so enthusiastically great each day may be the single largest contributing cause to crime in any given neighborhood.

Go cluck your tongue and pass your judgments on them.

Because lax tenant screening + credit requirements + non-resident management = a recipe for disaster.

But what do they care?

They keep on getting money that supports their comfortable lifestyles in their practically crime free neighborhoods.

And these well meaning social service agencies are no better.

I didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth so I very much understand people needing help.

So I know that a lack of financial resources does make you or your family bad people.

Yet because of the fact you or your family may not have the time or the resources to mount a time consuming, draining protest about issues in your neighborhood doesn’t mean you don’t care.

In fact, that’s what I think some dubious people look for.

They look for the people who are the hardest pressed and will squawk the least.

‘Cause it’s a hell of a thing holding down multiple jobs and/or raising children and/or staying on the straight and narrow AND trying to get people to do right by your neighborhood.

Trying to get long time institutions to respect where you live.

Trying to get landlords to treat your neighborhood with the same consideration that they treat their neighborhoods.

Trying to uncover the maze of LLC’s who illegally convert rentals to condos and leave them when they run out of money.

Trying to get the police to pay real attention to those no good thugs on the corner.

It’s exhausting.

If you let it, it can drain your essence.

Trying to fix something that has been broken for a long time takes patience and resourcefulness.

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

That’s a pretty tall bill for working class people who may not be well versed in how the city that works really works.

For those of you who can’t see beyond race, look up how UIC got built and get back to me.

So when I see these cowards hide behind a comment section and spout off about “why those people in that neighborhood don’t do anything” I know they have no idea what they’re talking about.

Because I know that I care about where I live---my neighbors do too.

Some things just fly under the radar.

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