“Spread Love”

On Thursday night, Dwyane Wade and his mother appeared on an Undefeated special on Chicago’s cycle of violence. It aired nationwide on ESPN and hearing different athletes alongside Windy City citizens calling for action was encouraging.

On Friday afternoon, D Wade’s cousin, Nkeya Aldridge, 32, was killed after she was caught in the crossfire of alleged Chicago gang members while she was walking her baby.

And, as soon as I read the news, that deflated, defeated feeling returned.

Money, fame and stature won’t make anyone immune from violence. D. Wade understands that clearly. He’s Chicago born and raised. It’s that lack of immunity that made him desire to become involved in the fight against the city’s gun violence epidemic shortly after being traded back to his hometown Bulls. We’ve seen enough news reports to know the city needs all the love and attention it can get. This year alone, “police have taken almost 2,900 guns off the streets since January 1…which amounts to ‘at least one gun nearly every hour of every day.’”

“We’re still going to try and help these people to transform their minds and give them a different direction, so this thing won’t keep happening,” Jolinda Wade, Dwyane’s mother

As individuals, we’re no more immune than Wade or his cousin, a mother of four. We don’t have the resources, the high profile or any of those imaginary force fields that might protect us. Chicago’s violence isn’t limited to the city’s borders. It’s an epidemic that’s filtered its way into many cities and suburbs across the map. We’re all subject to it, perhaps at lesser odds and risks, but still exposed.

We all have to fight against the sources of that violence. They’re numerous and will always seem like they’re too widespread to defeat. But, there are always the little things we can do. Talk to our kids about violence and how to solve conflicts without resorting to guns. Make it a point to be involved with them and their friends, setting the example and being that voice who reminds them how dangerous guns can be. Go beyond your household and find ways to get involved with youth in the community and with groups working to promote change by teaching kids to pick up skills and trades instead of guns.

Like Chicago native Mick Jenkins often says, Chicago and all of our cities need more “water,” his running metaphor for love and compassion.

By coincidence, Mick’s “Spread Love” came on Saturday morning and I’ve kept it on repeat ever sense. It’s not a fiery anthem by any means. In fact, it’s very calm and almost soothing in a way that may be unexpected from rap — but these young Chi kids have been bending the rules and expectations for hip-hop mighty heavily the past couple years. The Healing Component track is a call to action meant to ask listeners to take the walk with Jenkins as he tries to promote change through his pen and through his actions.

“This ain’t no poser shit, on some Moses shit
 You can see it swimming through the flow
 See, I done told you this but gotta show you this
 You know actions do a little more
 I quit the fantasies and started planting seeds
 Tryna usher in a little growth
 My nigga we been on our way up, I won’t say a lay up
 But love is easier than what they show”

The beauty of writing in this space is that I can simply stop when I want. There is no “point” that I have to make. I write until I feel like I’ve said all I have to say. Maybe some Kanye/Pablo-like revisions and additions will go down later when new thoughts come to mind.

Right now, the overarching thought is we have to actively promote change on a small scale in our daily interactions and build from there. Start in the home, then affect your neighbor before taking the same approach in impacting your community. There is no guidebook, otherwise I’d like to think the plan would’ve already been executed. Since no plan exists, we have to create the path and we have to do so before it’s too late.

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Twitter: johngotty | Instagram: jgotty

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