These Chicagoans Matter, Too

[Content Note: Gun violence.]

Over the weekend in Chicago, 46 people were shot, 7 of whom were killed. [Video begins playing automatically at link.] The youngest of those killed was a teenage boy.

Much of the violence happened in areas of Chicago that have gang activity. All of the victims identified so far are young men of color. One of the dead was shot by police, after, according to police, pointing "a 9-millimeter handgun in their direction after bailing from a moving car and falling."

These facts do not make for a narrative that invites empathy in a culture that justifies lack of investment and compassion for certain parts of the city on the basis that they are inherent, irrevocably violent. We justify neglect of communities with endemic impoverishment and lack of opportunity by pointing to evidence of impoverishment and lack of opportunity as supposed evidence of fundamental flaws intrinsic to the community, rather than the inevitable result of putting fairytales about bootstraps where money, education, jobs, and basic human respect should be.

Multiple deaths from multiple incidents of gun violence also don't make for easy narratives about "lone gunmen" who are "crazy," who act in a void outside of culture. Multiple deaths from multiple incidents of gun violence indict our culture of violence, indict our inaction and apathy, and thus we look away.

There's no one on the news saying the victims of gun violence in Chicago are angels. They get caveats:
Social worker Emily Runyan, who lived in the neighborhood and befriended Rivera's family, was recently working to enroll Rivera in the city's One Summer Chicago teen jobs program.

"I don't want to memorialize him because he made some bad choices, but Kevin was a kind, quiet and sensitive kid," Runyan said. "I truly believe he wanted more for his life, but was a victim of many things."
Kevin Rivera was 16 years old.

These Chicagoans matter, too. They matter to the people who loved them. They matter to those of us who don't value victims of gun violence by how much privilege they have. They should matter to their country.

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