Chicago Sun-Times Latest news from the Chicago Sun-Times Online en-us (Editor) Newspapers Chicago Sun-Times 84 34 30 Copyright 2014 <![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 … ]]> Sun, 17 Aug 2014 02:30:14 -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 … ]]> Sun, 10 Aug 2014 02:29:52 -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 … ]]> Sun, 03 Aug 2014 02:28:28 -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 … ]]> Sun, 27 Jul 2014 02:28:39 -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 <![CDATA[ A dream called Southland is real ]]> Lead story image

There once was a dream called Southland. It was as invisible as a wisp of air beneath a Ping-Pong ball inside a glass machine as the fate of children and parents hoping to be part of the first south suburban charter high school rested on an evening lottery four years ago. There once was a dream called Southland. Once, it was barely a whisper. Only a hope. A seed, it took root in a community. And the winds of opposition and the rains of criticism rose like a violent and relentless storm. And yet, the dream that was once Southland … ]]> Mon, 23 Jun 2014 12:04:42 -0500 <![CDATA[ It takes a mother, good and loving ]]> Lead story image

It takes a mother. We must reclaim, revive, rebuild and restore the village: One child, one mother, one family at a time. For the village is broken, deeply broken. And while it also takes a father, because of the absence of men who too often have abandoned their rightful paternal place, it will take good mothers to help repair and restore the village. It takes a mother. Good and faithful mothers who understand that whether in utero, or out, they still carry precious cargo. That without them the village is damned. That many a mother has been the antidote to … ]]> Thu, 12 Jun 2014 06:47:33 -0500 <![CDATA[ Endia’s murder shows the value of fathers ]]> Lead story image

I am convinced that “fatherhood” must be at the heart of any discussion about healing our communities. That we must now embrace the critical role of fathers. That we must encourage those men who have fallen down on the job, or else have completely failed, to seek to redeem, restore and renew their calling as fathers. ]]> Thu, 05 Jun 2014 06:46:18 -0500 <![CDATA[ No white stories, no black — only human ]]> Lead story image

Voice. It is at the heart of journalism. As a columnist, this couldn’t be any clearer. My voice, my thoughts, my ideas and perspective are what I seek to share with readers each week. I also get to share sometimes the voices of others I encounter on this journey called life. I see each column as an opportunity to think out loud, to try to touch the hearts of readers, to engage them, maybe to help them see the world — even if only a slice of it — a little differently. To evoke not only thought but also feelings. … ]]> Wed, 28 May 2014 06:35:55 -0500 <![CDATA[ Easter’s message at a nursing home ]]> Lead story image

I thought about how we — the church — have become more fully engaged in ritual and religion. Less connected to the real work of redemption and restoration, reflective of the love of a God who gave His only begotten Son. ]]> Wed, 21 May 2014 06:34:43 -0500