By Julie DiCaro–
(CBS) Blacks lives don’t matter in Chicago.
Not that they shouldn’t matter, you understand. But they don’t, mostly.
What else explains a city that has had more than 2,700 shootings in 2015 alone, the victims almost all male, overwhelmingly black? What more can one say about a city that holds a press conference regarding the execution of a 17-year-old child by a police officer, then, minutes later, lights the Christmas tree in Millennium Park? What is left to say about a city that takes over a year to indict a police officer who’s seen on video shooting a teenager in the back as he walks away?
It’s not fair to say Chicago never cares about black lives, of course. Sometimes she cares. If a black child can shoot a basketball or hit a baseball or drag three men across the goal line with him, then Chicago cares very much about his black life. Chicago might care enough to pay attention if the victim of a shooting is very young or very pretty or plays for the president.
Not enough to demand change. Not enough to elect different politicians with different ideas. Not enough to invest in schools or community centers or black lives themselves, of course. But enough to send internet prayers, at least. Enough to shake her head at the nightly news and mumble about what the world is coming to.
Laquan. Hadiya. Tyshawn. Amari. Jonylah. The names of those Chicago has claimed run on forever.
And yet, Chicago has loved many black lives. Walter. Michael. Fergie. Ernie.
Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times by a police officer. Shot in the back, initially, as he tried to walk away. Then in his side. His leg. Then everywhere. The officer, Jason Van Dyke, was reloading his weapon when another officer told him to hold his fire. The police said Laquan McDonald lunged at them. The video clearly shows he didn’t.
Despite claims by State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez that her office was close to indicting Van Dyke for murder anyway, it’s not difficult to imagine what would have happened without the video in this case. Another dead black kid. Just another one gone over the course of a weekend. And really, who can keep track these days?
Shamiya. Shambreyh. Demario. Deonte.
Billy. Gale. Jimmy. Frank.
What does Chicago stand for? Is she a city that embraces black lives when, and only when, they play a child’s games for her enjoyment? Do black lives matter only to the extent that Chicago can celebrate them in Grant Park and on the Mag Mile? Does she cast aside those who don’t play in October at Wrigley Field or hoist championship trophies in Daley Plaza?
Do black lives still matter if they can’t distract her from the drudgery of life for $150.00 per seat? Do they stop counting when they remind her of the ugliness in the world? Do black lives matter when they don’t work in gleaming palaces with sponsored names but merely attend schools with no music programs, no school nurse, no heat?
Shaquise. Kaylyn. J’Quantae. Armonni.
Derrick. Sammy. Minnie. Scottie.
Chicago has always been disproportionately proud of her teams. In a city that closes in on itself in bitterness of winter, sports provides her people with something to focus on other than the ice, the wind, the million miles until spring. Perhaps Chicago’s teams have provided too much of an escape from reality.
While Chicago was looking at the hard court, the diamonds, the ice, the world around those venues fell apart. It’s long past time for Chicago to stop divorcing her favorite black sons from the communities and the people that gave them to her. Englewood, Gresham, Back of the Yards and countless other communities have long been hoping Chicago will invest as much in their children as she does in her sports teams. It’s time for Chicago to step up to the plate.
What do you stand for, Chicago?
Julie DiCaro is an update anchor for 670 The Score. Follow her on Twitter @JulieDiCaro and like her Facebook page.