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A heat wave sprawled across the East Coast during the July 4 holiday weekend, but it is the streets of Chicago that are on fire. At least 64 people were shot in the country’s third largest city over the Independence Day weekend, including four who died. The grim violence in Chicago has already reached 329 homicides this year in comparison to 490 in total last year. Despite increased street patrols by the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and the arrest of 88 gang members in two of the city’s most violent neighborhoods ahead of the holiday weekend, fatherless sons with guns are killing each other.
The hometown of the President of the United States is set to exceed last year’s death rate and it is only the first week of July. No stranger to violence, particularly in the warmer months, Chicago is literally on fire. Already up 50 percent from last year, the city is on pace to record well over 600 homicides for the year. Just like many dense urban communities, there is a strange code of silence in the streets of Chicago. Unfortunately, those most affected by the violence are often the ones refusing to come forward and identify the assailants.
The ongoing violence in the community has affected many families in the city. What comes as no surprise is an overwhelming percentage of those involved are black men who are fatherless sons. In order to exact any real change in the perpetuation of gun violence and trust in the system, urban areas will need to be reached and rescued from the cycle at a young age. The fatherless sons’ crisis has affected over 21 million children in the United States today.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, fatherless sons are at a dramatically greater risk of criminality, teen pregnancy, sub-par educational performance, suicide, mental illness, and drug and alcohol abuse. At the forefront of these sweltering statistics is the way it all plays out in the black family. In fact, compared to peers in two-parent homes, African-American children in single-parent households are more likely to skip school, perform poorly in class, or engage in troublesome behavior.
Many residents live in fear as fatherless sons continue to kill each other with guns in Chicago. Despite the more than 5,000 police who were dispatched to patrol Chicago’s deadly streets over the weekend, the city was still ablaze. Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said:
There is no magic bullet that is going to solve the whole thing. This is going to happen in layers. This is progress. This is not success. We will never, ever arrest our way out of this.
Not every fatherless son becomes the member of a local street gang, participates in criminal behavior, or is a poor student, however, there are statistics that show people in two-parent households are more likely to succeed. The problem facing Chicago and other urban areas is generational, not situational. Many of today’s fathers were victims of a fatherless household themselves and therefore do not have the tools to be a real dad to their sons. It is time for society to work together to disrupt the crises in order to save generations to come. Without change, fatherless sons will continue to kill each other on the streets of Chicago and in other urban communities.
By Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
USA Today: More than 60 shot in Chicago over July 4th weekend
Chicago Tribune: Chicago homicides
Huffington Post: Empathy for the Young Black Men in Chicago
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