Niagara Gazette

January 31, 2013

HAMILTON: A darker side to a brighter Black History Month

By Ken Hamilton
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Fourteen year-old Hadiya Pendleton, a beautiful young black girl who performed at the Washington, DC inauguration of President Barack Obama, was recently murdered in the nation’s third-largest city, the home of Obama.

Hadiya is the victim of a sick society that is drunk on the drug of “Me-ness” and whose meanness has resulted in forty-two savage gun-related homicides thus far this year in that city.

There are three significant things about the murders in Chicago:

• Attached to every murdering firearm that was a disturbed human that needs to be taken off the streets

• 80 percent of all of the murders had black victims; that is thirty-four people in a city whose population is only 32 percent black

• Unlike the Denver suburb of Aurora Colo., where the theater shooting occurred; or the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek, where the Sikh Temple shooting took place; or the tony suburban hamlet of Newtown Conn., where the Sandy Hook School Massacre took place, there is no report of President Obama going to console the parents of these 42 victims.

I stop short of saying that the president doesn’t care about the families of his Chicago supporters who carried him on their shoulders to victory; but I will suggest that perhaps a public visit to Chicago just isn’t as newsworthy or agenda fulfilling event for the president. Who knows?

But, what I do know is that my column that appeared in this paper on Sept. 19, 2008, asked the question if the election of Barack Obama as president would mean the end of affirmative action. While I feared that it would, I never thought that it would signal the end of action for and by black people altogether.

But, seemingly it did, because none of the victims of the either the Aurora or the Oak Creek shootings were black, and there was only one bi-racially black child at Sandy Hook who died at the hands of what is apparently a madman.

But there are 34 dead Chicagoans this month alone; some of them may have even looked like Trayvon Martin, whom the president said would look like his son, if he had one. Their families are mourning their loss without the same personal and direct condolences that the families of the suburban mass murders have received from the president. I’m sorry; but it is what it is.

At current rates, the projection is that 30 more African-Americans will die on the streets of Chicago to gunfire, despite reports that in two of Chicago’s 22 police precincts, officers have pulled more illegal guns off the streets than were collected in all of New York City. NYC is three times Chicago’s size and with more than 75 precincts. Its black population just shy of 25 percent of all of the people that are in Chicago. Are new gun laws the answer? There is nothing to point to it being so, as the criminally sick won’t obey the new laws either.

But with the correlation between African-American victimhood in Chicago and its poorly-performing school system, perhaps properly educating the kids before they do the shooting is likely the answer.

In paraphrased quotes, one local Facebook contributor, who declined attribution, said, “The problem in Chicago and in every other African American community, lies in their non-belief in justice; so matters are taken into their own hands. The lack of opportunity (no jobs, no chance of redemption (due to criminal past) are examples. Put these factors on top of a poor educational structure and you create what is there now -- a bunch of ignorant boys that don't know how to settle disputes and possess a distrust for authority. So they prey on each other because they can't find a job, due to their inability to pass a drug test, the possession of a criminal record, and so on.”

Much of his statement is overwhelmingly true, and we have to be progressively aggressive in solving the problem that leads to gun violence, especially against ourselves.

It is evident that little-to-no help is coming from Washington, and nor should much of it come from there, either. Even though this is a local problem that is spread all over America, it is still a local problem.

It is one that we must solve ourselves, and in the same way that our black grandparents had historically prevented it from happening.

Here’s how:

• On every school day, send your children to school, fed, homework done and prepared to learn.

• Participate in the learning process by learning with your children, examining their homework and by respectfully participating in parent-teacher conferences.

• Join a move for alternative educational opportunities that include the same parochial school opportunities, that many of the educators themselves have had, such as charter school participation and even a move for vouchers and community schools to which you can walk.

• Take responsibility for your children, the ones over which you have control, and don’t get caught up in the race-baiting that you have to act for the good of the entire race – your part of that battle is in your own children; and, if necessary

• Set their goals for a historically black college or university that would give them real goals in life.

If you don’t do that, then ensure that you have a sufficient supply of candles for the street-side vigils, and that they have life insurance policies for the inevitable.

Make me wrong, PLEASE; and do some affirmative action yourselves this February in making Black History Month brighter by making our children into good, productive, black citizens; and quit waiting for Obama to do it for you. Hadiya has.

Contact Ken Hamilton at