Tuesday, June 30, 2009

There are people dying...

Michael Jackson urged us all to make the world a better place. Only five days ago, the world lost the icon and musical genius of our generation. His presence was magnetic, his voice was melodic, and his spirit shall live in our hearts forever. He, in some way, inspired us all. Now, this post is not about Michael, but rather to celebrate the enduring message within the lyrics in his song, Heal the World. Those words could not be more appropriate for the situation plaguing Chicago this summer. Since the beginning of this year, 37 young people have died as a result of gun violence in Chicago. The youth are dropping their books and arming themselves with weapons and disillusionment as their agency. How can the future carry on our work if we survive them?

I was discussing this issue with a good friend and doctoral candidate; she explained the disparities in mental health counseling in the African American community and that access to those services could possibly alleviate many of the ills in our community. I believe that as a result of divestment in educational resources, many young African American males have traded their outdated textbooks for the latest assault rifles. In effect, these young men are on path to institutionalization and minimal opportunities. Discussing the rate of imprisonment is another topic for another post and the subject of my research for the upcoming school year, pending invitation to the Journal. The death of these young people signals a need for change, more specifically, change that implants empathy, self-esteem and that offers our young people a future through education.

How can I heal the world? Work tirelessly. Live with purpose. Take advantage of every opportunity to be a positive influence in a young person’s life. I pray that the thirst that young people have is not quenched by crime, but rather by knowledge. We have to go back and show young people the fruits of education. All of my fellow graduate and professional students understand the pain of strained resources and stress of competition in an ever-evolving world market. However, as Celie so poignantly said, “I’m here.” We are here to impact the world and if we do not do something to affect the lives of young people in Chicago, they will not have the opportunity to speak these same words.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the families that have lost a love one. I pray that peace comes to the streets of Chicago. Attached is a link to an article covering the story.



TheBeez said...

About time you posted!!! It's so sad that we live in a world where people seriously think the answer to problems are ending someone else's prematurely... we are doing such a disservice to the youth (though technically, we still fall in that age category)... I guess MJ said it best when he said "If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make that-- change."

Hopefully my little steps translate to big steps for someone.

R.A.L said...

Thanks for you thoughtful and insightful comment.

Alana said...

Awesome post love! "How can the future carry on our work if we survive them?" Powerful statement. Definitely going to be added to the list of Robertisms that I quote frequently.

I would agree with your friend's perception of one solution to this issue. Access to mental health counseling is definitely a must even if it doesn't come in the form of traditional "talk therapy." Individuals need to learn effective and prosocial coping skills to deal with anger, frustration, perceived injustice, etc. so that the weapons are not the only resources available to "solve" problems.