On Saturday, I was working at home and decided to turn on the news. I found the broadcast of Hadiya Pendleton’s funeral and stayed to watch. I was deeply moved by her death and this celebration of her life. The choir sang “We Shall Overcome”. We must. This is a civil rights issue at its most fundamental level. We must have a city and country where it is possible to grow up in every neighborhood without an expectation that you will die before you are 20 and that opportunities for life outside of a gang exist. The news media called Hadiya “the face of an epidemic.”
At the end of every weekend, I drive to work on Mondays and hear from the radio announcers the faceless, nameless reports of 7 or 12 shooting deaths in Chicago over the past few days. There are typically no names reported and often a range of ages is mentioned. These young people have mothers, fathers, sisters and friends. They have not had a chance in this world. Their funerals are not events and no one of note attends. I wonder why we as society are not all alarmed, terrified for the young people of our city. It is unimaginable to think of my child growing up in a neighborhood where this was the normal. I ask myself what I must do to help.
As terribly sad as this funeral and her loss is, I hope that it would become a galvanizing moment for everyone, not simply another statistic.
Last week, I listened to the news as one mother was interviewed about the loss of all of her 4 children to gun violence. As a mother I cannot imagine this loss. I am sure I could not go on. This is not happening in a third world country but less than an hour from my house. It is simply not possible to ignore this fact if you are a person of good conscience.