Every year, the street-culture magazine The Fader publishes a special photo issue. Usually the issue features multiple photo essays, but this year the magazine chose to spotlight just one.
Shot by photographer Daniel Shea, the essay, entitled "Chicago Fire," features the city's notorious South Side , but with a focus not on the neighborhood stars like rapper Chief Keef but, rather, on the people who are still walking the violent streets.
The photo essay is accompanied by an interview with Shea. He says:
Right now in Chicago is not a good time. A lot of the young people call it Chiraq. Innocent people are dying. For the general public, it's easy to just say, "Chicago is violent. We need to stop getting guns in the hands of violent people, we need to lock people up." I wish people would be more open to thinking about the complexity of the violence. The memorial walk I photographed was for a six-month-old baby. I haven't been sleeping well, because I've got all this anxiety about this story — there's too much to cover and I'm feeling overwhelmed. That's a larger crisis about doing this kind of work: you go in quickly and leave. I think this essay will cover the bases, but I'm hoping it's just a proposal to viewers to consider these issues more.
It's interesting that all the people featured are black. The violence in Chicago has made national headlines, but many have become desensitized to the images of those who are affected by the crime. It's as though we almost expect them to be black faces, but to see it spread out in an essay like this is to come face-to-face with a sad reality: We're killing ourselves.
Read more and see more photos at The Fader.
Jozen Cummings is the author and creator of the popular relationship blog Until I Get Married, which is currently in development for a television series with Warner Bros. He also hosts a weekly podcast with WNYC about Empire called Empire Afterparty, is a contributor at VerySmartBrothas.com and works at Twitter as an editorial curator. Follow him on Twitter.