A lot has been happening around me personally around the youth of this city. These last two weeks alone have been trying, from incidents of parental abuse (physical & sexual) of a grade school student I work with, a teen hurting himself because of feelings of being unloved & talking about depression and suicide, a non African-American teacher allowing grade school boys to gyrate while video tapping them doing the Harlem Shake with one in a monkey suit, to the shooting death of 6-month old Jonylah Watkins.
I’ve cried, I’ve vented in anger, I’ve felt overwhelmed as well as continued to seek and pray that there is something bigger that God is calling me to do that can change the state of our youth & our communities on a large scale.
What I do know is….we are hurting.
There is so much hurting that is broad-scaled, that the problems almost seem too big to bear, much less begin to address.
Everything from our education system, lack of educating particularly Black youth of our history that could empower them to think more positively of themselves, the shuttling of our Black men, youth and increasingly women into the prison system, one-sided negative media images of Black men, women & urban communities, disregard of the lack of ‘parenting’ and the systems in place that continue to allow for this, an overall lack of a sense of community and solidarity in our communities, a reactive vs proactive approach to dealing with gangs and violence, and so much more that needs to be addressed and massively transformed.
Earlier this week I tweeted about having one of the teens I work with that’s been getting pulled into street life to come by to talk, worked w/ him to do online application for summer job, & then got in studio and he laid down vocals to finish recording this song. I stated “if the streets are gonna keep trying to claim our youth, I’ll be damned if they don’t have to fight and go through me first…even if it’s 1 child at a time”. I can’t allow for this hurt to continue. And at the same time, I feel like it’s not enough. What I’m doing is not enough to put a dent in so much pain and so many problems, however, this is not going to stop me.
I have ideas, as I’m sure many do. I don’t necessarily know how to bring all this, everyone together…at least not yet, but one thing that I must acknowledge and be thankful for are the signs of hope!
Two Chicagoans that have been a blessing this week are Derrick Rose and Lupe Fiasco.
Derrick Rose stepped up to offer to pay for the funeral expenses for baby Jonylah, a sign of how much he was touched by this tragedy and he cares. That’s something that our communities need more of…to simply care, and not just about your own children, family or friends, but about each other and the welfare of all youth & families.
And today, Lupe Fiasco released this song “Jonylah Forever”:
I greatly appreciate these two men. Their actions are a light on how we must treat and see one another. I’m even more grateful that at a time when we can be overcome with a sense of hopelessness that many in our communities feel every day, they continue to serve with their gifts, their talents, and even as an inspiration to not give in or give up.
It is a look at ourselves, each other, this city, and see a sea of possibilities. When we can see it, then we can act accordingly, and know that we have the ability to save ourselves.