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Members of President Obama’s cabinet were here in Chicago yesterday to address the teen violence in the city as a reaction to the brutal death of Derrion Albert.
Before I get into what they did and didn’t cover, as a Chicagoan, who was the victim of the violence in this city at the tender age 7-years-old, I can say very comfortably that what we are witnessing with young people in Chicago and around the country isn’t an ‘education’ issue or ‘law enforcement’ issue; necessarily. It’s more an economic issue. What we are witnessing is the “poor” killing the “poor.”
Eric Holder was right when he said at the press conference yesterday ..’Youth violence is not a Chicago problem, any more than it is a black problem, a white problem, or a Hispanic problem. It is something that affects communities big and small, and people of all races and all colors. It is an American problem.’ And that American problem is poverty.

We all know that there is a direct link between poverty and crime. 

I moved to Chicago from The Delta of Mississippi with my teen-aged mother when I was 2-years-old. Mississippi was then and is now the poorest state in America, according to a recent United Nation’s report on Human Development. You all may remember the Global Grind blog on the Poverty of Mississippi Youth.  My mom is the fifth child of 11 children; all of whom, including my grandparents, picked cotton as a source of income during summer months. They worked ten hours for 20 bucks. And I’m not talking in the 60s, but in the 80s.

 My mother, single and determined to build a better life for herself and child; moved to Chicago at 18. 

We moved in with my aunt at Rockwell Gardens Housing projects. I remember being so scared walking up 18 flights of stairs in the pitch dark, because the elevator was never working and neither were the lights in the staircase; i held  my nose all the way because the smell of urine made me sick.

When we moved out of the projects we moved to the city’s west side. I could never go out to play because my mother said the neighborhood wasn’t safe. It forced me to get creative; so I’m grateful today.  But, at  7 years-old I saw my mother robbed three times on the West Side; once at gun-point while on our way to buy me roller skates; then again in a Currency Exchange, then again while walking to the sitter’s house at 5:30 in the morning, because my mother had to be at work at 7am.  

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