We need to show that Chicago is not a heartless city

My Fridays are very busy. I have class, tutoring, office hours. When I go home I will have to rush one of my kids to therapy while someone else takes the other two to soccer. Then I have to think about dinner, read books, tuck kids in.

But I won’t have to lay one of my kids to rest forever. And the only reason why I won’t is because I live in the right side of this city. In the safe side. In the side where kids are not executed in broad daylight.

By now everyone with an Internet connection knows that a nine year old was executed a couple of days ago in Chicago. On the street. While he walked home from school. While this happened, all my kids were probably worrying about was whether I had remembered to bring a snack to the park or not. And that is utterly, terribly, deathly unfair.

A child’s address shouldn’t be the difference between life and death. In a perfect world it shouldn’t even be the difference between a good or a bad school, but we are way beyond that here. Who cares about schools when their kids may never even need them?

Tonight, instead of picking up a grade report, a family is choosing a casket for their son, their brother, their grandson, their nephew. And that is unacceptable.

All lives matter, and all deaths should have the same impact. But they don’t. That is the sad truth. The death of a child will trump the death of an adult. A murder will trump an accidental death. And I can’t imagine many things more horrific that knowing that someone in this city was cold enough, heartless enough to grab a gun, look in the face of a sweet nine year old and shoot. On purpose. On target. To know that this kid’s life didn’t matter at all to that person. That the fact that death is irreversible didn’t stop him. That someone else’s life seemed disposable.

I grew up in a place where violence, terrorism in particular, was part of the background. It was the default. We were used to it. And one of the reasons I left Spain, and the Basque Country, is because I didn’t want to raise kid in such an environment. Yet here we are.

I have no answers here. But I have questions. What resources would be dedicated to fight all these shootings in Chicago if they were terror related? Isn’t this kind of violence terrorism too, in its very own way? Where is our mayor? Why does he seem more worried about the city’s brand than about the city itself? If he doesn’t like the fact that Spike Lee is shooting a movie called Chiraq, maybe he should do more for this city not to deserve such a name. Why is the news coverage so unfair? Oftentimes, a robbery in Lincoln Park will gather more TV attention than a shooting in the South Side. What does this city need to be shaken? And beyond all that, what can we, the citizens of Chicago, do to make things better? To prevent this from happening again? To show that we are not a heartless city?


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