I don’t write this from the fringes of the community. I grew up in the hood, and I, too, suffered from CTSD. I saw my first dead body at 15. I was taking out the trash. Crackheads had taken up residence in the hallways of my building, often killing the lights so that they could smoke uninterrupted. One man had overdosed. His eyes were still open. I still struggle with this image because it was horrifying. At school the next day I told friends what I had seen, and it turned out I was the last of my group to witness death.
In Chicago, which has been nicknamed Chiraq—another poorly named area of blackness that glorifies the violence and not the shocking number of casualties—more kids were killed between 2003 and 2011 than Americans were lost in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and almost as many as died in the war in Iraq. If the Chicagoans had actually declared war, those who survived could receive funding and treatment. But the violence has been deemed a part of hood living.
What is raging in urban America is a low-income war being waged in low-income areas. There are no high stakes to be gained here, just struggling people fighting for survival among more struggling people. At 5 years of age, Myronne has already been wounded, both physically and emotionally. He has been scarred. What nightmares will haunt him when he sleeps? How is a 5-year-old supposed to process this? His grandmother Pamela Miller says she has already noticed a change in his outgoing behavior.
“He’s always looking around, and if someone knocks at the door, he’s looking at it. He definitely don’t want to go back over to Whitcomb Court,” she said.
When the news station visited the old apartment that was the scene of Myronne’s shooting, the child’s blood still stained the front porch. Saunders told the news station that she just wants a place where children “can play outside peacefully.”
Sadly, that place isn’t named the hood.
Stephen A. Crockett Jr. is associate editor of news at The Root. Follow him on Twitter.