We had just come back from our #Clickforhope tour. I was alone with the girls with the trailer hitched to our Red truck, ready to get home and rest for a bit before I had to head out again. Traffic was moving slow like on any other Friday in Chicago, waiting at the intersection of 35th to turn right onto State street, when all of a sudden I saw an unmarked cop car quickly pull up, a gentleman ran out of his car, ducked and reached for something from his holster. I saw people running in the street as they ducked to see what was happening. I couldn't see anything at all, but everything inside of me said to PRAY! I began to pray and intercede with my girls in the car, for the situation at hand. I prayed, as fervently as I could for the safety of those outside, and for our city!
Traffic was starting to get redirected, and out of the corner of my eye I saw what I think was a body on the floor, and so I continued to pray!!!! Helicopters sounded from the sky, now as I sat safely in my home with my 3 girls. I slowly began to process what had happened and if I'm honest....I'm still processing through it. I have so many emotions going through my heart and the reality is that this is the everyday norm for those living in the south side.
You see, we've only lived in Bronzeville for 7 months. We moved to Bronzeville in the beginning of fall, as the colder weather had already begun to curb violence. Because of this, facing the reality of violence and the statistics of how much it is consuming our city hadn't become a reality for me. I've always lived in the suburbs, in the quaint "safe" areas where this isn't the everyday norm.
Then I saw the news, and heard that a woman had innocently lost her life while at Starbucks on the corner of 35th and State. My heart broke. It didn't feel fair, or right. Fear tried to consume me, and redirect the purpose of why we live in Bronzeville. I'm not going to lie, Bronzeville wasn't our number one choice, but with our budget as a family of 5 it's all we could realistically afford. Before moving here, we wrestled with the choice. Was it wise? Is it safe? In our searching and seeking, we have felt a deep sense of purpose here. I don't know what that is exactly, but I hold onto that purpose.
I'm faced with the reality that violence happens everyday. Lives are being taken by the hands of others and choosing to not acknowledge it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Whether or not I live in Bronzeville or the suburbs, it's a problem that needs to be addressed and the longer it gets ignored by acting like it doesn't exist, the more and more lives of innocent people are being taken. The lack of resources, fair and adequate education for all, and absence of jobs leaves a group of people feeling hopeless. When there is no model for others to look up to as a source of hope, the result is generations of poverty, defeat, and life on the streets.
And so today I make a promise!!! I refuse to live here and not make an impact in my neighborhood. I commit myself to being present, in showing up and being seen. I will know the names of my neighbors, and they will know mine. I will help clean, and pick up trash on our block. I will make eye contact as I walk past them. I will smile and ask how their day was. I will listen to their stories and needs. I will be a voice! I will be a representation of HOPE and share the HOPE that lives in me.