Chicago Sun-Times Latest news from the Chicago Sun-Times Online en-us (Editor) Newspapers Chicago Sun-Times 84 34 30 Copyright 2014 <![CDATA[ Thankful for a lesson on cherishing the moment ]]> Lead story image

In the cold, I could find no traces of her footprints in the snow. I stared down my block into the darkness of midnight and the snow-laden, frigid streets. My heart pounded. My thoughts seemed frozen. “Ma?” I called out, hoping she was close enough to hear. “Ma-a-a-a?” My breath hung on the icy air. No answer . . . Into the darkness, my mother had disappeared. She slipped from my front door as we slept, just after midnight, wandering away in a haze of Alzheimer’s and her heart’s hope of finding “home.” I hadn’t long laid across my bed, … ]]> Sun, 23 Nov 2014 02:33:57 -0600 <![CDATA[ ‘Chiraq’ is the wrong name for the city I know ]]> Lead story image

This is the last in an occasional series titled “Chiraq.” Farewell to Chiraq. I never loved you. You are not my city. Never my kind of town. Not the one I was born in. Not the one I remember growing up as a little boy. I remember Chicago. . . . That glistening city where a winter’s wind on bitter-cold days licked that frozen lake, frosting everything in its path, turning even mustaches into white ice. And yet, everything still felt just right. Chicago. Where men on my side of town during the most unforgiving winter nights disconnected their car … ]]> Sun, 16 Nov 2014 02:31:03 -0600 <![CDATA[ Who can save us? What about us? ]]> Lead story image

“ I f the Negro in the ghetto must eternally be fed by the hand that pushes him into the ghetto, he will never become strong enough to get out of the ghetto.” — Dr. Carter G. Woodson, 1875-1950 What about us?  I know about slavery. But what about us? I am well versed in America’s dark history of institutionalized racial hate. Fully aware of the impact of Jim Crow and also crack cocaine. I know about “the Man.” About our countless tragedies suffered. And yet, amid any grand scheme or conspiracy and the cruel realities of racism and hate … ]]> Sun, 09 Nov 2014 02:33:05 -0600 <![CDATA[ The world still needs inside agitators ]]> Lead story image

Give me my agitator or give me death! My agitation all started a few weeks ago when our old washing machine, after just a dozen or so brief years, appeared to be on its last leg. Regrettably, the time had come for us to part ways. This much I could no longer deny. Its once vigorous spin had slowed to a mere wobbly whir, and the brown spots on our machine’s once glossy-white top edges could no longer be dismissed as a little discoloration but as, uh, full-scale rust. Still, it’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday. Our mechanical … ]]> Wed, 05 Nov 2014 16:06:27 -0600 <![CDATA[ Where is organized religion in Chiraq? ]]> Lead story image

Is there no balm? No hope for healing rising from the church in America? Emanating from the community of faith, here in “Chiraq,” where the blood and cries of murdered children glare like red embers, flickering against a pale night sky? Why no evidence of a collective plan by “the church” to prevail against the hell engulfing poor neighborhoods here and across urban America — even as the landscape remains dotted with storefront “sanctuaries” and grandiose worship centers? Why no collective cry or steadfast mourning for what has been lost, stolen, relinquished, abandoned? Why won’t the church stand up and … ]]> Thu, 27 Nov 2014 07:11:51 -0600 <![CDATA[ Dear Dr. King, What would you say today? ]]> Lead story image

“As long as the mind is enslaved, the body can never be free. . . . The Negro will only be free when he reaches down to the inner depths of his own being and signs with the pen and ink of assertive manhood his own Emancipation Proclamation.”  — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 1967 Dear Dr. King, I regret to inform you that we have chosen chaos over community. You once pondered, “Where do we go from here: Chaos or Community?” I’m sorry to say that today our young men slay one another. They come for our sons in … ]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 06:28:48 -0600 <![CDATA[ On twerking, dreams and other random thoughts ]]> Lead story image

Just my random thoughts: In today’s world of twerking grandmothers and cursing grandmothers, of clubbing, fighting and sometimes frightening grandmothers, I’m so glad I had a praying grandmother. (Singing: “Grandmother prayed for me, had me on her mind, took the time to pray for me. . . . I’m so glad she prayed for me.”) Just random thoughts . . . A 9-year-old boy is murdered, found shot multiple times in broad daylight, in a backyard on 71st Street, also known as Emmett Till Road. His killers black. The victim black. Will his slaying ignite marches and protests nationwide or … ]]> Thu, 13 Nov 2014 14:35:02 -0600 <![CDATA[ Don’t preach that prosperity madness ]]> Lead story image

My final response to a pastor friend who I asked whether my writings on the institutional Christian church are too critical. Hey man, I appreciate and respect you. You’re one of the few brothers I would even venture to have this conversation with. I didn’t feel “attacked” by your response. It did sting because I write about the church with much love, passion, a sense of purpose and always with much prayer — a church now drifting aimlessly on a sea of prosperity doctrine, “religion-tainment,” and celebrity preachers that flows from mega-churches to storefronts. A church that has forgotten its … ]]> Thu, 06 Nov 2014 06:24:35 -0600 <![CDATA[ Too critical of the church? Why aren’t you? ]]> Lead story image

My response to a pastor friend who I asked whether my writings on the institutional Christian church are too critical: Brother, thank you for your honesty, stinging a bit, as some of it was, lol. But I asked for it. Despite the sting, specifically as it relates to my being “very critical of leaders and the church with strong biases,” it has given me new resolve and direction. Since we’re being honest, let me say that none of what I have written over these past 10 years about the church has anyone ever written to me to say that it … ]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 06:27:48 -0600 <![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 … ]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 06:34:00 -0600 <![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 … ]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 06:29:38 -0600 <![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 … ]]> Wed, 08 Oct 2014 06:26:07 -0600 <![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 … ]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 06:34:04 -0600 <![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 … ]]> Fri, 26 Sep 2014 13:15:45 -0600 <![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 -0600 <![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 -0600 <![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 -0600 <![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 -0600