Ms. Arlene Jones, I belatedly read online with interest your column of Wednesday, July 27, 2009 about gun crime and responsibility in the local community. I think you make a great many valid points. The sentiments you express are ones that should echo loud and long over every community in Chicago devastated by the madness of gun-toting thugs. As you say, everyone in this community should be ranting and raving about the violence; and the lack of concern from us is a sickening, saddening indictment of the level to which we have descended.
On August 31, 2008, my beloved son Paris Jackson was shot dead in Galewood Park on Bloomingdale and North Avenue. He was 19 years old. The young thug who murdered him was only 15; a little boy thinking he was a big man with a gun, who left my son’s toddler daughter, Karma, without a daddy. One bullet is all it took to wreck his life, my own life, and that of my daughter, Khadijah. When a thug kills someone, they don’t just kill one person, they kill part of the heart of the family members the victim leaves behind. Somehow they fail to realize this, lost in a twilight world of drugs, booze, guns, homicidal madness and stupidity.
To me, the sick boy in question was not the only one who shot my son, though, and you drove at this important point in your excellent column. Though he physically pulled the trigger, there are people in his background who could, and should, have stopped him before committed his crime against my family. Where were his parents or friends when this was going on? Did they even know? Did they even care? It happened after 11 at night. Why was he out at this late hour without adult supervision? We know the answer to where one of his family members was-the 19-year-old, first cousin who gave him a ride to kill my son. And why a 19-year-old would even drive a young cousin to commit a shooting is beyond understanding.
There is an old African saying: “It takes a village to raise a child.” This means, of course, that not only parents should take responsibility for the way their child turns out, but also the local community. A sense of communal pride, responsibility and respect for others is what we seem to have lost in the modern age. Every day the body count gets higher in Chicago-and for what? Drugs? Gangs? Petty personal feuds and squabbles? Innocent bystanders get killed all the time. Children sitting in their birthday parties die when a stray bullet goes through a window. It’s beyond insane. And yet, we seem to accept and almost condone it, with little action and anger.
As you said, we should be marching, organizing, listening, analyzing, fixing. If not, why are we raising our kids? Just to be cannon fodder for some senseless street feud? A feud forgotten the next day if some child didn’t lie dead after it? How did we get this way? How did we get so hollow, so lacking in feeling, and uncaring? How did we come to gradually accept and expect the slaughter of our young ones? How can we get the guns off the streets? Surely, adults have to provide these guns, and there must be some way of stopping them or tracking them down. Ald. Ike Carothers (29th) told me that there are not enough police officers in the ward because of lack of money.
It occurs to me that we could employ more officers if Carothers and his overpaid kind took a cut in pay, because he’s not doing what he should be doing as an alderman. We can’t allow this to go on any longer-we simply can’t. It’s intolerable. I don’t want any more families to go through what mine has.
But until we get our heads together and work out a way to stop our kids from being cannon fodder in this senseless, eternal, un-winnable war-that is exactly what will happen.
Thank you for your words of wisdom, Ms. Jones. Our communities need more like you.