My Son Came Home

April 13, 2016

(This blog post was originally printed in Oy! Chicago on March 25, 2016)

Annice MosesBy Annice Moses
JCUA Member

Three teen boys running around with saggy pants and backpacks. One of them is wearing a black hoodie — hood up, a bandana covering the lower half of his face. That kid has a gun in his hand. He’s shooting it. The police are called. You know what happens next…

What happens next is I get a call from my son. He tells me his friend was being an idiot and shooting squirrels. Someone called the cops. Can I come pick him up? He gives me the address. It’s not the address of the police station.

I am the first parent to arrive on the scene. There are two police Suburbans parked, their engines running. My son and his two friends are standing nervously. Two guns and a giant canister of ammo sit on the hood of one of the police vehicles. The officers are extremely polite. They tell me that the boy with the hoodie had been shooting his Airsoft gun and both my son and the third boy had not. They said the boys had all been cooperative. My son was free to go. Free. To. Go.

I found out later — many days later — that my son also had an Airsoft gun. A gun that was shifting anxiously in my son’s backpack, while he was being respectfully questioned by officers. A backpack that was never searched — a gun that was never discovered.

My son, at age 13, had just gotten a big dose of white privilege. A privilege that may have saved his life.

My son came home that day. He left his bed unmade and his towel on the floor the next day and the day after that, and the day after that. My son continues to have breakfast every Sunday with his grandparents. He still opens up a mouth about having to clean his dishes before going out with friends. He still takes too long doing his hair and regularly makes his brothers late to school. He got strep throat. He turned 14. My son came home.

Tamir Rice was black. He was 12 years old. He was playing with a BB gun in a park. He will never play in that park again. He will never celebrate another birthday. He was shot by an officer before he had a chance to explain his gun was a toy; before he had a chance to hide it in his backpack; before he had a chance to call his mom and say he needed her to pick him up; before he felt his nerves kick in worrying about what his mom was going to say. He’ll never come home again.

I can’t stop thinking about it. But I can if I want to. I’m not raising a black son. I don’t need to teach my son — my sons — to keep their hands on the steering wheel when they get pulled over. I don’t have to help my sons’ white friends understand that the usual mischief boys get into can’t be for mine because I fear his life may be taken in a “misunderstanding” because he’s black. When the dispatcher comes over the radio saying, “Suspect is a black male…” somehow those words — BLACK MALE — strike such a fear, that a routine nuisance call can escalate to a child dying in a park next to his toy gun. The gratitude that my son came home is forever paired with shame. There can be no solace in injustice, even if my son came home.




No More Excuses – Trauma Center Now

June 26, 2015

Jay and Demands

By Jay Stanton
JCUA Member

Earlier this June, I spent one Thursday reminiscing about my time as a student at the University of Chicago and being both pleased and horrified at some of the changes that have been made on campus in recent months. The previous day, nine activists were participating in peaceful civil disobedience, calling on President Robert Zimmer to discuss a list of demands for the University of Chicago to help solve the trauma center desert crisis on the South Side.

Instead of pursuing its ordinary tactics of ignoring protesters until they get tired, or superficially meeting demonstrators’ demands to meet with high-level administrators while not making any changes as a result,  the university enlisted the help of the city fire and police departments to extricate and arrest the activists.  They have been charged with serious misdemeanor charges that have the potential to result in jail time. All non-student activists have been banned from campus. These charges can only be meant to punish and intimidate them and the rest of us into silence about the refusal of the University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) to open a trauma center. In order to encourage the free expression of ideas, the University should drop the charges immediately.

TAKE ACTION NOW:
1. Sign this petition calling on the University of Chicago to drop charges against the nine trauma center protesters.
2. Join the protesters in court on July 10th. Details and RSVP in the above petition.
3. Write an email to president Zimmer expressing your concern for the University’s actions and the lack of a trauma center.

But here’s the bigger question: why is the U of C singling out trauma center activists? Read the rest of this entry »



We’re not waiting: #TraumaCenterNow

June 2, 2015

By Daniel Kaplan
JCUA Community Organizer

uofc

On August 18th, 2010, community youth leader Damian Turner was shot less than four blocks from one of the best hospitals in the world, the University of Chicago Medical Center.  Damian died en route to the nearest trauma center, more than 9 miles away at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Damian’s death highlighted the south side’s vulnerability to gun violence because of a lack of emergency medical care. South Side organizations began a campaign for a Level I trauma center at the University of Chicago.

blue-button-take-actionFor five years, the University of Chicago’s neighbors have called on the University to open a trauma center for the south side. Five years later, the south side is still waiting for the University to give serious consideration to the needs of the community.  The community members can’t wait any longer. That is why JCUA is joining the trauma center coalition for a week of action on the University campus.

Map

Jewish teachings forbid us from standing over the blood of our neighbors, and command us to do everything necessary to save a life. As temperatures rise for the summer, so will gun violence fatalities. Now is the time to take action. We must prioritize saving lives and ending the trauma center desert on the south side.

Why should the University of Chicago host a Level I trauma center? The university is currently raising $4.5 billion for its capital campaign. It would take less than half of one percent of this to open a Level I trauma center. And, in a recent study, The Illinois Department of Public health identified the University of Chicago as the best candidate for hosting a Level I trauma center on the South Side.

Having recently received the nomination to host the Barack Obama Presidential Library, the University of Chicago has an even greater responsibility to also host a trauma center. This weekend, Father Michael Pfleger wrote in the Chicago Tribune, “Wouldn’t it be both hypocritical and shameful to bring the library of President Barack Obama, who championed and fought for national health care (a part of his presidential legacy), to a university that fails to provide emergency care to those most in need on the South Side of Chicago?”

Yes-You-Can

We are not waiting one minute longer. Join us in action.

RSVP-Blue-ButtonThursday, June 4th at 6:30 pm: Interfaith Vigil for a Trauma Center at 58th and Maryland

Saturday, June 6th at 10:15 am: Action near the University campus quad

Saturday, June 6th at 11:30 am: March and die in on 59th and University

Use these hashtags to tag your social media posts:

#stillwaiting
#traumacenternow
#dearmrpresident
#bringithome
#blacklivesmatter


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