Chicago Sun-Times Latest news from the Chicago Sun-Times Online en-us (Editor) Newspapers Chicago Sun-Times 84 34 30 Copyright 2014 <![CDATA[ ‘A burger with chips is all that I am after’ ]]> Lead story image

“I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me . . .” —Ralph Ellison, “Invisible Man” I am a shadowy creature, here on Michigan Avenue, at an outdoor café, or perhaps I am invisible. At 11 minutes 20 seconds since I punched the stopwatch on my smartphone out of curiosity of how long I would have to sit here before I was served, a pigeon pecks at scraps on the ground beneath my round high-top table, the sun beaming down on a cooler-than-usual summer day. I am not sure which way the wind is blowing. A leaf blower … ]]> Sun, 21 Sep 2014 19:00:53 -0500 <![CDATA[ We, the media, keep missing the story ]]> Lead story image

This is the last in a series titled The Sweet Season. For photos, video and more on The Sweet Season, visit . Page-one pathology. Front-page fatalism. Ten o’clock neuroses. Murderers, muggers, robbers, rapists, we are. The number-one suspect. Societal menace. Thug. Heartless. Criminal. Or so goes the portrait of black American males that too often fuels the American news media engine and the perceptions about black males. Ours is the mug shot below the headlines. Ours the soulless brown eyes staring back without remorse. Too often, ours is the story of our supposed propensity toward criminality in a world … ]]> Sun, 14 Sep 2014 02:31:26 -0500 <![CDATA[ Baseball principles teach kids not to give up ]]> Lead story image

This is the third excerpt in a series titled “The Sweet Season.” For photos, video and more, visit In the bottom of the 6th and final inning, the tension was thick like molasses. Win or lose, the season for the Matteson/Olympia Fields Cubs was already a winning one — and baseball a game of life, the field just a classroom for lessons by coaches to help these little boys someday grow into good men. Dominique, a short, stout kid with a mean fastball, stood at the mound on this warm July evening, time ticking on the last game of … ]]> Sun, 07 Sep 2014 02:32:08 -0500 <![CDATA[ Thanks, Mama, and may you rest in peace ]]> Lead story image

This week’s column is an excerpt from my memoir, “True Vine: A Young Black Man’s Journey of Faith, Hope and Clarity” and a tribute to my mother, Gwendolyn Marie Hagler Clincy, who died on Friday, Aug. 22, after a long illness. Itook one last look around the apartment, moving slowly from room to room, taking in deep breaths and quietly reflecting. Then we walked downstairs, climbed into our car, and drove about a hundred yards away to Mama’s house. I needed to say good-bye to Mama alone. “Y’all all packed up and ready to go?” Mama asked, greeting me at … ]]> Sun, 31 Aug 2014 02:30:27 -0500 <![CDATA[ ‘The only thing stolen: bases’ ]]> Lead story image

This is the second excerpt in a series titled The Sweet Season. No fatalism. No pathology. Simply a slice of life in middle America. Of little boys and men with Little League hopes and dreams. No gang. Team. No guns. Bats. The only hitters are base hitters. The only thing stolen: bases. No OGs. Just older men, graying, or balding or simply seasoned by life and eager to share their wisdom. To help black boys thrive. No courthouse holding pen. A dugout. No sagging. No prison orange. Uniforms — blue shirts tucked neatly into gray pants. No bullets flying. Fly … ]]> Sun, 24 Aug 2014 02:31:45 -0500 <![CDATA[ The Sweet Season begins in Ford Heights ]]> Lead story image

This is the first excerpt in a series titled The Sweet Season: The sweet season. It is a time when little boys are innocent, free, no matter what cruelty their eyes might already have seen. A time when smiles curl easily at the edges of their faces and joy shines in their eyes like the glint of sun on polished chrome. The sweet season. A time when disappointment and pain over a loss can dissolve as quickly as a three-run lead in a single inning. A time when a season can hinge on one last at-bat. One last hope. A … ]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 06:38:25 -0500 <![CDATA[ Warning for parents on how to raise a killer ]]> Lead story image

This is part of an occasional series titled Chiraq. How to raise a killer: First, fathers, abandon your sons. Never cradle or nurture them. Wholesale kick them to the curb soon after life begins. The sooner, the better. Never spend time with them, never show them — teach them — what it means to be a man. Make excuses for your absence: My baby’s mother “be trippin’ . . .” Never show your son any love. Leave him feeling worthless, forsaken by the man who was supposed to love him first, unconditionally. Want to raise a killer? Fathers, leave your … ]]> Thu, 11 Sep 2014 06:33:49 -0500 <![CDATA[ Fewer shootings mean no less hell ]]> Lead story image

Apall hung over the city like a dark cloud. Police scoured the streets in search of an 11-year-old murder suspect on the lam. His name was “Yummy.” He was, according to police, at his tender age, already a hardened criminal. Robert “Yummy” Sandifer was believed to be the triggerman in the fatal shooting of 14-year-old Shavon Dean, an innocent bystander, killed just feet from her South Side home. In a separate shooting earlier that Sunday in late August 1994, the same prepubescent gunman was believed to have shot a 16-year-old boy, injuring his spinal cord. I was chief crime reporter … ]]> Thu, 04 Sep 2014 06:48:28 -0500 <![CDATA[ I can remember a better Chicago ]]> Lead story image

I’m so Chicago that I remember a time when we were a community. A time before crack cocaine, before drive-by shootings. A time when there was no news of little girls being killed by stray bullets at a slumber party. I remember a time before “Chiraq.” I’m so Chicago, I recall a time when everyone went to church on Sunday mornings and the smell of dinner wafted through the neighborhood. A time when churches were vital and connected to our community. And mega churches and prosperity doctrine were an obscenity to us all. I remember the glow of the light … ]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 06:41:07 -0500 <![CDATA[ Give motorcyclists their deserved respect ]]> Lead story image

Something about the rumble of my Harley on a sun-drenched summer day. Something about the wind blowing through my, uh, helmet or scarf, since I am bald. Something sweet about rolling over an open country road — time and destiny suspended by the sense of freedom and exhilaration with each turn of my wheels, my chrome glistening. Something about the darnedest things that people say, as if trying to steal my joy over my newfound Hog heaven. “Hey man, you’re gonna mess around and kill yourself on that motorcycle.” “Riding a motorcycle is way too dangerous.” “You must be going … ]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 06:52:38 -0500 <![CDATA[ On bloody weekend, where was the church? ]]> Lead story image

This is the second in an occasional series titled Chiraq. On “Bloody Sunday” in Chiraq, where was “the church”? What were her prayers? Her hopes for those who dwell amid the gunfire and bloodshed here that has turned some neighborhoods into war zones? Did she cower in the shadows of the crosses that hang in the sanctuary, behind the safe confines of the walls, out of harm’s way? Did the church spill into the streets by the thousands armed with the Gospel message of hope and peace? Or did she sit silent, complacent and complicit amid the mounting carnage of … ]]> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 06:36:44 -0500 <![CDATA[ Counting blessings when lights go out ]]> Lead story image

Outside, the winds roared. Inside, our lights flickered. The rains fell. Soon it was clear that the storm was upon us. Suddenly, the house went dark. My son and I grabbed our cellphones, using their glow to give us some modicum of visibility. He followed me to the living room. We lifted the blinds to look outside and see Mother Nature — bending the branches of our sprawling White Birch tree in the front yard, sheets of blinding rain hurled by throaty gusts. I took comfort in our shelter, even if worries over when our power might be restored left … ]]> Thu, 07 Aug 2014 06:24:34 -0500 <![CDATA[ What’s with the mug shot madness? ]]> Lead story image

Beauty is only skin deep, they say. But that didn’t stop a blue-eyed bad boy from becoming an overnight Internet sensation. With chiseled cheeks and tattoos, his mug shot had some ladies fawning and gushing, despite his felony criminal background. The ensuing buzz across social media left me scratching my head. His name is Jeremy Meeks, 30. Arrested by police in Stockton, California, his steely-eyed photo was posted on the police department’s Facebook page. A mug shot. No big deal. Not according to some women who see Meeks as a stud muffin, as sumptuous eye-candy — a male specimen worthy … ]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 06:36:44 -0500 <![CDATA[ If only we could banish the term ‘Chiraq’ ]]> Lead story image

This is the first in an occasional series titled “Chiraq.” ‘Chiraq” is dead, they say. But maybe they forgot to tell the killers. Neglected to send the memo to homicidal young’uns around Chi-Town to put those guns down. Or is it that they aren’t listening? Amid this growing swell who readily admit that words do matter, there also exists the undeniable twist that the word now so hated — the word that now lives and breathes, and that was created by the fate of sons and daughters who now can only speak from countless cold graves — so profoundly resounds. … ]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 06:37:57 -0500 <![CDATA[ Moms are great, but let dads have this day ]]> Lead story image

Random thoughts, in my best Chris Rock voice: Can we fathers get even one day, just one day, without some sisters demanding credit on our day too? And can we please, please, for father’s sake, at least get the big piece of chicken? Just random thoughts. Father’s Day is for fathers. No matter how many cards Hallmark prints for its “Mahogany” collection, a mother is not a father. Not even a mother admirably taking on the unenviable task of pulling double duty. “So is what you’re saying that a woman can’t be a male role model?” a reader wrote. Duh … ]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 06:36:19 -0500 <![CDATA[ We work on being better fathers ]]> Lead story image

Written Father’s Day, 1996, this letter is an excerpt from my book, “Dear Dad: Reflections on Fatherhood”: Dear Dad, I’m sitting here at the computer this morning writing this letter. Imani and Monica are fine. The Bulls look terrible. I can’t believe the Sonics have won two games. Man oh man. Sitting here, I am filled with emotion. On Father’s Days in the past I have felt the same kind of things, but really have not been able to come to grips with my feelings. It’s even harder to talk about it. But I’m going to try: I have at … ]]> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 06:21:43 -0500 <![CDATA[ A blueprint for life would give young people a leg up ]]> Lead story image

Istood before a jovial group of promising teens at the West Side’s Spencer Elementary Technology Academy, their voices roaring inside the assembly hall. “I may be young, but I’ve got a plan,” they yelled, repeating after me the pledge of success I wrote some years ago. “I hold my destiny in my hand. . . . Drugs — are not my destiny. Prison — is not my destiny. Failure — is not my destiny.” All of these could have been my destiny, I told them. And yet, despite my doubts as a teenager growing up on the West Side — … ]]> Wed, 02 Jul 2014 14:33:35 -0500 <![CDATA[ Dear daughter: ‘You ran. With heart, you ran’ ]]> Lead story image

Dear Daughter, I will always remember our season together. The cold. The snow. The wind. Rain. The way you ran. I will remember how we arose to our clocks’ 5 a.m. buzzing, from winter through spring. How I sometimes stumbled out of bed a little late, only to find you already downstairs, bright eyed and ready to hit the gym. Even though you had a 12-hour day of school and practice ahead. How no matter how difficult our workouts, you always returned home with a smile. I will never forget how you bought into the idea that together we might … ]]> Thu, 26 Jun 2014 06:36:29 -0500