The leading cause of death for black boys and teens in the US: homicide.” As part of an effort to decrease gun violence in Chicago, Burrell Communications Group produced an award-winning “series of social media videos last year intended to highlight the toll that gun violence was taking on the black population.” The kids featured in the videos were third to eighth graders picked from a local elementary/middle school. One of them was Zarriel Trotter. In the video interview, he said, “I don’t want to live around my community where I got to keep hearing and hearing people getting shot, people keep on getting killed.” On Monday, he was hit in the lower back by a stray bullet.
Elizabeth Jamison-Dunn, Trotter’s principal, said, “It makes me feel like the work we do with our students is that much more urgent. We would never teach them, ‘Do this so you can escape your community.’ We work on how to make the community better.” I think this is a very interesting point, because in his interview, Trotter said he didn’t want to live in his community, which is a common feeling across the world in communities that are unsafe or lack opportunities for growth. Many of the people in those communities fall victim to the social cues around them and begin to follow the crowd, participating in violence or unemployment, dropping out of school, etc. Usually those who succeed leave the community, either out of necessity (because there are not jobs there, etc.) or simply desire. This creates a Brain Drain. Jamison’s statement that she encourages her students to succeed and stay to make the community a better place offers a bright spot of optimism, but is it possible?
A second important issue raised by the article is race. I personally think that portraying this issue as a black issue is causing more harm than good. The nation is already so divided by race, and this just makes it worse. It makes whites see blacks as violent, dangerous, and gang-driven. It could even make blacks see themselves that way. It certainly makes black feel different than whites and whites feel different than blacks. The more we focus on our differences, the bigger and bigger the wedge between us becomes. We should focus on our similarities if we want peace. I know that Burrell Communications Group had good intentions and wanted blacks to feel united in a common cause that was affecting them, leading to a collaboration for solutions. But I think the media should present this as an education issue, not a race issue.