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Obama should lead fight for safe Chicago streets

Updated: March 2, 2013 7:41AM



I am almost too angry to write.

Angry about the killings. Angry at this city I love. Angry at my people — fellow African Americans — over our nonchalant acceptance of the senseless murder of our children in the streets like dogs, and our defeatist, kneejerk, shoulder hunching.

I am angry about the murder of another child — Hadiya Pendleton, 15 — fatally shot this week while standing under a canopy in a South Side park.

I am angry that we still are not up in arms. That we have not yet declared, “Enough is enough.” A state of emergency.

Angry that we do not demand that Mayor Rahm Emanuel now make all of Chicago safe, restore order to every Chicago neighborhood, make them secure enough for children to go to school, jump rope outside their homes, sit in the park, or simply play without the daily threat of gunfire in the same way that his own children play at ease.

Angry that the city’s police chief can speak of shootings and killings in percentages, as if the numbers are not a reflection of human loss, as if what’s being measured here are jellybeans, not human lives.

I awoke yesterday to a friend’s Facebook posting: “For months, I disagreed w folks who thought the president should come home and address the violence issue. Now, I think it’s time . . . “

Uh, hello, man. . . . It’s wa-a-ay past time to come home.

Surrounding Obama’s Kenwood home is a valley of death on the South Side, where streets are stained with our children’s blood.

Oh, and, the president is, uh — last I checked — uh, well, uh, black.

And the little girls being murdered here? Well, they look a lot like his beautiful daughters and mine.

But what can President Barack Obama do? What could he really say? Why should he act like he’s the president of “Black America”?

First, there is but one America. And ain’t I — we — also American?

Also, what President Obama can do or say for us is the same thing he has said or done on behalf of advocates of same-sex marriage, or on behalf of the cause of illegal immigrants, or gays in the military, or for the grieving families whose children were slain at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Obama can bring a sense of national urgency to this crisis in Chicago. And by doing so, he’ll also bring a little more heat on his former chief of staff, the mayor, to stop these mostly young, black male killers “by any means necessary” — to use Malcolm X’s words.

And what can we African Americans do?

We can resolve to raise our children, to teach them values from the cradle. To teach them about the sanctity of human life and the difference between stuff and substance.

Our men must be fathers, not simply sperm donors.

Single young women must cease from having baby after baby after baby after baby when they cannot care for one.

We must snitch.

Mamas must turn in their killer sons.

And our churches, which take so much, must now give back — opening their doors as after-school learning and adult training centers, as safe havens, even using their big-screen televisions in their sanctuaries to spotlight this issue at every Sunday worship service until we have subdued it.

I can hear ’em now: “So, Mr. Self-Righteous, what are YOU doing?”

For starters, I’m raising my children. I’m mentoring other men’s children, more than I can count.

And I’ve resolved to keep writing, even when I question whether it does any damn good.



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