By Arlene Jones
One of the major benefits of being able to read is that it allows one to think. And when one can think and think critically, the wool cannot be so easily pulled over a person's eyes.
A testament to the power of thinking can be seen via an island 90 miles off the coast of Florida. If Fidel Castro can be lauded for anything, it is having a populace that is 99% literate over the age of 15. On the day Castro finally dies, it will be interesting to follow what happens in that country. Will a poor but literate populace fall prey to the Miami Cubans who salivate at the idea of returning home and trying to take over?
In this country and within the black community, we have allowed ignorance to reign supreme. The very parents who are so quick to speak on how smart their children are as infants and toddlers are some of the first to never get involved in the formal education of their children. There is a reason Rahm Emanuel closed 50 schools in the black community while his children attend the University of Chicago Lab School. He does for his children while hurting ours and we allow it. We permit it. We buy into it.
We have a school system in Chicago whose budget is greater than the city of Chicago's entire budget. Yet we have lost over the past 10 years how many people with the destruction of public housing? In addition, we have had the demolition of houses in the black community so that it looks like the ghettos in war-torn Germany during WWII.
We have a mayor who was once second in command at CHA. Then he went to Washington and served in the Clinton administration. He came back to Chicago just in time to make money off the demolition of public housing whereas in New York City, they didn't tear down their public housing buildings to make hundreds of thousands of poor people homeless.
This same person who helped to create the drama now sits unable to control the drama. The latest tactic is a campaign of stopping the violence by having many in black radio run 30-second advertisements acknowledging that they are joining in the "put the guns down" campaign. I support the campaign to bring peace to the 'hood but will never advocate for the current mayor to be re-elected. He came into office with the moniker "Godfather" as if he were supposed to be Vito or Michael Corleone when in reality his tenure has been more like Paulie Corleone. Just like the scene in Godfather II where they sliced up a cake in the shape of Cuba and served it to different mobsters, Rahm has sliced up Chicago and served it to different developers.
If this country is serious about stopping the violence, I would like to suggest a start to the solution. One of the current, hottest and sickening trends is for folks, young and old, to film horrific incidents and place them on the Internet. Even our most recent infamous killing — that of Endia Martin, 14, by another 14-year-old was caught on tape. I saw a snippet of someone's tape of that day before they pulled it from Facebook. Many fights that used to happen and then were forgotten are now recorded and shared with the world for posterity.
Why is it that Hollywood has their movies rated for violence and yet any fool can film and upload violence to be consumed by everyone without it being rated for the effect it will have? How can videos of adults beating children, cussing at children and including children's images during fights and other heinous events not be held to a federal standard of child abuse?
We can start by making it a federal crime to film, upload and share any video that includes violence and the image of someone under the age of 16. When people's focus is no longer on trying to capture the next viral video, their energy and efforts can be like in the past — stopping the violence as opposed to simply filming it.