• Liz Venerable

Take a Chance on Chicago

Photo courtesy of i.vimeocdn.com

What words pop into your mind when you think of Chicago?

Well, over the past eight years, since Barack Obama announced that he was running for President, many people only think of violence when they think of Chicago.

In a New York Times series on shootings in Chicago, Father Michael Pfleger, an anti-violence activist and pastor on the city’s South Side, described Chicago as “the poster boy of violence in America,” and he is right. Chicago is seen as the murder capital of America becoming synonymous with gun violence and attracting attention from the press, politicians and advocates.

While the violence in Chicago is a problem, however it is a problem that many cities in America face according to thetrace.org (see the chart below).

Photo courtesy of thetrace.org

Before Barack Obama became President, the violence in Chicago was only an issue for people who lived in Chicago. Before 2008, Chicago was only in the news for its shady politicians and politics. However, after Obama won the presidency all eyes were on Chicago. Unfortunately, instead of seeing all the possibilities Chicago has, the world only seems to see violence.

There are many reasons why Chicago has such a high crime rate, but that’s not the point of this article. This article is about why you shouldn’t focus all your attention on the violence in Chicago. This is not to say we shouldn’t have a conversation about the violence in Chicago, this is to say we should talk about more than just the violence in Chicago. We should talk about how to help the people living there and about the people trying to help, like six-year-old Armani Crews, who spent her sixth birthday handing out food to the homeless, or Park Manor Elementary School Principal La’Shae Jenkins, who started coaching after school cheerleading after budget cuts.

As someone who grew up in Chicago and has loved ones living there, I understand why everyone is worried about the violence in Chicago but talking about how violent Chicago is will not fix anything. It is the difference between prevention and reaction. Prevention is Chance the rapper donating $1 million dollars to Chicago's Public Schools or my mom baking cookies to give to the local community center bake sale. Reaction is saying Chicago needs stricter gun laws, when it has one of the strictest gun laws already according to the Washington Post.

To the people living in Chicago, I wish that this article gives you hope because I know seeing or reading about the violence in the city can cause you misery.

@usf_encounter tweets: