Imagine you saw that headline. Imagine you woke up on Monday morning and those words were spread across the top of your local city paper. By the time you read it, the Governor would have already deployed the National Guard. The President would have already made a statement. A curfew would have been set for anyone under 18. Schools would have been closed. Check points would have been set up around the city. Every active police officer would be called into work. CNN, MSNBC and Fox News would all break into their regular scheduled programming for a special report. Just close your eyes for a moment and imagine that fifty-three WHITE people were shot in one weekend in one city by fifty-three different people. Just for a moment, imagine. You can open your eyes now…
Reality. Reality sets in and you realize that fifty-three WHITE people were NOT shot in one weekend in one city by fifty-three different people. Impossible. Not in this country. Not in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Not in the country that God has blessed. We are blessed to realize that this didn’t happen. Not this past weekend. Not the weekend before that. And not even the weekend before the weekend before that. For us as white people, me included, this is not a reality. Not something that even our imagination can dream of. So we go back to sleep and thank God that it wasn’t true.
But for the father of a beautiful seven year old girl who was shot while playing in front of her house on the southside of Chicago, this dream quickly became a nightmare. For the best friend of the playful fourteen year old young man shot dead in his head while eating outside a pizzeria on the northside of Chicago, he won’t be able to wake up tomorrow morning thanking God. For the mother of the thirty three year old US Coast Guard member who was pronounced dead when he arrived at Jackson Park Hospital, she tells the media, “I don’t think the black male life expectancy goes past 25 now. He is 33. I thought I had got him past the hump.” This is reality. Maybe not for us white people, but for millions of black people, this is what every weekend looks like. And this is precisely what it looked like in Chicago this past weekend. 53 shot. 10 dead.
There was no deployment of the National Guard. The President didn’t mention it. No curfew was set and schools stayed open. No check points, no increased police presence and I am pretty sure that Fox News didn’t mentioned it. The response? The Mayor and the police chief gave a press conference and said it’s nothing new, cause they had the same number of shootings at this time last year, but they introduced a new approach to slow down the violence. They were going to go after the liquor and convenient stores where gang members and drug dealers hang out and clean house. And in the words of the Mayor, “we will go after you!” Threats and band-aids. And sometimes band-aids do work and sometimes we need band-aids, but Mr. Mayor of Chicago and to mayors across this country, this is no paper cut. A band-aid may stop the bleeding today, but the cut will require surgery tomorrow.
The solution to this problem is easy. It is not fast, but it is easy. If we, as a society, truly want to end violence in urban communities, we could. We have the will power to do so. The question is, do white people want to be part of the real solution? I am not saying that black people are off the hook for their contributions to the solution, but until WE (white people) put skin in the game, we, white people, will be content with the band-aid and threat approach. As long as we can contain the violence to the imagination of black and brown people, then we never have to worry about this nightmare. But, if we are to say that this country gives every individual the right to the pursuit of happiness, then we will invest in urban communities the same way we invest in white America. We will build the best schools possible, the job-training programs that lead to long-term high paying jobs, end racist drug policies that house a disproportionate amount of people of color in warehouses that we call prisons, invest in local, small businesses that re-invest in the community, build infrastructure and energy policy that supports 21st century technology, tighten gun laws so these killing machines don’t get into the hands of the wrong people and ensure access to high quality healthcare. Not fast, but easy.
53 people shot in one weekend is unacceptable for a nation as prosperous as ours. It is unacceptable if the victims were white, black, brown or any other shade of the human complexion. We must do better and we will. If we are to solve America’s problems, then ALL Americans must be part of the solution. Just imagine, in the near future, one weekend when the gunshots are silent.
Michael Skolnik is the Editor-In-Chief of GlobalGrind.com and the political director to Russell Simmons. Prior to this, Michael was an award-winning filmmaker. Follow him on twitter @MichaelSkolnik