Every morning that I wake up, I take a moment to stretch, and then gather my thoughts. Then I turn on the television to see how many of our young black men have been killed overnight. I spend about 30 minutes hoping and praying that the news anchors won’t say a young black man, or even worse, young black child has been shot and killed in the Austin neighborhood on the city’s West Side.
Based on what I hear, my mood is set. Lately, I’ve been getting calls from media types asking my opinion about what is going on in our community. I even turned on my computer and there we were on Yahoo!… The headline read: “Violence a way of life in some Chicago neighborhoods.”
If one did not know any better, one would think that there is nothing good happening in our neighborhood. But, I had the best time of my life right here on the West Side on Chicago Avenue this past Saturday. Around 6:30 Saturday morning I was joined by my sons, as well as Pastor Martin Stoudemire of Powerhouse Ministries and other community members. We spent the morning cleaning, talking and setting up for an event which was to take place later that evening.
While running back and forth to the local home improvement store I turned on the radio to hear one of the local stations talking about the parade that was coming down Chicago Avenue. I immediately took a new route so that I could see what was going on. As I approached I could hear the sounds of a fire truck, not on its way to a fire, but letting the people on the parade route know that the mascot from the Chicago Sky was riding along. I also heard the sounds of our community youth drumming and marching.
There was also a drill team full of young men doing their thing. There were floats, cars and everything that comes with a parade. I can say I really enjoyed myself. I returned to the corner of Chicago and Mayfield to finish preparing for a Natural Hair Runway fashion show. The event was to take place in the Bailey/Spann Community Garden.
As the night fell, more than 300 people gathered on that corner. The event attracted people of all ages. They came to purchase unique items from the entrepreneurs and local business vendors, and enjoy the live entertainment and fashion show as more than a dozen models strutted their stuff down the runway. There was no drinking, no fighting, and no problems. There were just people enjoying themselves in their community. I really felt good.
I did, however, notice that even though there was a press release sent out to all the major media outlets there was no news coverage. Here, we have more than 300 people enjoying a fashion show under the bluest sky, in our community garden, and that is not news? I guess media reporting is based of what others find to be important. I guess black, brown and white people coming together for something positive don’t draw the media’s attention.
If we start seeing more positive images in our community, perhaps we will start to believe that good things can and do happen in the Austin community.