Hope Doesn't Have to Die in the Hood

Chicago Sun-Times columnist John W. Fountain relates his inspiring story of surviving in a rough Chicago neighborhood as he witnesses spiraling black-on-black crime in predominantly African-American communities in large cities.

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In his Chicago Sun-Times column, John W. Fountain tells his story of surviving in "the ghetto" as he witnesses soaring black-on-black crime in predominantly African American communities in large cities. He says that youths do not have to submit to lives of crime.

Disclaimer: I am not a “Super Negro.”

I was born a son of the ghetto, joint heir to poverty, the firstborn of a 17-year-old black mother married to a black male, sometimes mechanic, 22. My father was an alcoholic. This was how he lived. It was the way he died.

A deadbeat, he never gave me much more than his DNA or his name.

He never called me with a birthday wish. I do not remember even so much as a kiss.

I was destined to become a statistic: Black, male, poor, reared on the colder side of Chi-Town — where premature death by GSW (gunshot wound) sometimes seemed the lesser of the evils compared to becoming one of the living dead who staggered in hopelessness and despair.

Neither of my parents were college graduates. Welfare was too often our sustenance. Ketchup sandwiches and sugar water our treat. And my days as a child too often were filled witnessing horrors committed by brother against brother -- or sister against sister.

The “Klan” of my generation, and also this one, was soulless young black men gunning for young black men -- dressed in assassination all black, in hoodies or ski masks.

Read John Fountain's entire column at the Chicago Sun-Times.

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