This…is not a war zone. I have seen those, stood over bodies bloated and dead and still moving. Horribly full of the life that feeds on the dead. This is something else.
There is beauty in the hood. Not just roses growing in concrete (though that happens), the beauty of kids playing in the water from a fire hydrant. Of football and double dutch and the neighbors who know everything about you.
There are brightly colored church hats, candy ladies and sidewalk chalk. Summer is a hard gorgeous season. Warm, rich, teeming with a peculiar mixture of good spirits and hot blood.
Blood gets spilled here. Blood gets spilled everywhere. We are a culture that loves guns. That straps up in more ways than one. But the blood on the streets isn’t the real story. There’s a lot of it, but distance and hyperbole exaggerate the amounts.
Joy runs rampant here too. The same hard faced boys with death on their hips have a ma’am on their lips when they carry the groceries in. Or the babies out to play. That’s the secret of Chicago. Of the myth that is Chiraq.
There are few monsters here. There are mostly families trying to get by, people trying to make a way out of no way even if that means the kind of work that never ever carries a W-2.
Death comes close to you here. A cop’s beating or bullet isn’t any sweeter than a criminal’s and that makes for some strange ideas about who is your enemy. Who could be your friend. We bleed here. We live here. We love here. The streets run with water more than with blood. Snow melt, water from the Midwest rains or hydrants spilling forth so that hot bodies can cool off.
This is not a war zone. You disrespect the dead when you call it such, because here many of the bodies that hit the floor get up again. Dust off, check on their neighbors…and keep working.
This is a city in crisis. We don’t need more cops as much as we need more money. More schools. More programs that worked until their budgets were cut down faster than any group of dope boys working a corner. You can buy a gun here faster than you can find a job. Fix that, fix so many things and you can fix Chicago.
It’s not Chiraq, it’s not a place where death dealing is a day job. Not yet. But squeezing out the poison looks like putting politicians out of work. Looks like actual rehabilitation and reintegrating people into the work force. The city’s wide open if you want plunder, and the windows are nailed shut if you want a way to succeed. We are not a war zone, but if you try to make us one…well…we know how to fight. That’s all we do every day to keep what we do have running.