The Stunning Reality Of Urban Violence (Editorial)

Shamiya Adams is the top story of Chicago news right now.

Unfortunately, we have come to know her name in a tragic way. 

She is the beautiful 11-year-old child (seen left) who was slain when stray bullets entered her friend's home while they did what preteen girls do: have sleepovers, make snacks, and enjoy being kids. 

Across the nation, kids are being robbed of more than just their childhoods; some of them are being robbed of their lives by heartless criminals. Last week, 14-year-old James Jerimiah Thomas was shot to death at a community center in Jacksonville. Two days ago, a 5-year-old girl was killed in Leavenworth, Kansas, during a police shootout. (The police say that the bullet that ended her life was not fired by them.)

When I saw Shamiya's picture on the news, I thought of my own nieces visiting from Atlanta--some of whom were born in Chicago. The eldest, Jay Marie, is 13, and a very athletic 6 feet; the youngest, Reagan, is the cutest, most playful 1-year-old you will ever meet. The other two, Morgan (9), and Ryan (6), are inquisitive and creative. Despite their differences, I love them all equally without favoritism-- just like Shamiya's family loved her. 

I couldn't imagine getting the news that any coward would hurt anyone close to me. The idea is enough to give me chills to my spine. But the world has become disconnected and distracted by the wrong things. Most people prefer to use social media for personal pleasure instead of mobilizing for social change. And they won't get involved until a tragedy hits their doorstep. 

That is frightening. 

We shouldn't have to wait for tragedy to happen to someone close to us in order to join the movement. For us, the real problem is not "stopping the violence" but "starting a movement." If we start the movement, the decrease in violence will follow suit. By ignoring the proper order of things, we are delaying peace and creating a culture of danger.

My nieces are back in suburban Atlanta now. As much as I would like them to return, I would rather go down there to visit them. I don't want them returning to a city that is not prepared to give them the safety every child deserves. 

The only way to be "So Chicago" is to become "So pissed off" with urban violence that it becomes a thing of the past for our children. 

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