15 year old Hadiya Pendleton of Chicago was an honor student, volleyball player, and a majorette in The King College Prep High School Band. This last month she became a part of history when the band participated in several events during President Obama's inaugural celebration.
This was perhaps one of the high lights of her young life, and may have been one of many had she not been murdered in a park in Chicago just days later.
On a rainy Tuesday afternoon Pendleton sought shelter under a canopy in a neighborhood park with about a dozen other teenagers, something I've done many times as a kid. But there were never any deadly consequences. As she stood there huddled with some friends trying to stay dry, a young man jumped the fence and opened fire on the crowd shooting Ms. Pendleton in the back, and wounding another unidentified teen, she was rushed to City Hospital where she died. The man then fled in a waiting vehicle. There have been no arrests in this case and there are no suspects. Pendleton was not a gang member, or gang affiliated, and police do not believe that she was the intended target. Just an innocent bystander who started her day believing that she would live to see another. Her funeral will be held this Saturday.
The President has been uncharacteristically quiet given the fact that the park where the carnage took place is just minutes from his home in suburban Chicago. A petition has been circulated to urge the President to attend Pendleton's funeral but, as of this writing, there still has been no response from the White House.
Tragedies like this evoke a deep sense of sadness for those of us who are parents, and in this case especially, those of us who have daughters.
But it still doesn't change the fact that tragedies like this have become so common place in Chicago that it almost has a numbing effect. It 's like being familiar with sunrise, and 24 hour days. There is a perverse sense of inevitability that comes over me each and every time I hear another story about violent crime in Chicago, and it seems as if most of society is apathetic when it comes to this tired, age old narrative. One in which violence fueled by urban blight has become expected, and relegated to minority neighborhoods across the country. Neighborhoods often thought of as little pockets of hell where it's inhabitants endlessly devour each other, and implode. As long is gun violence is kept within that bubble, there is little or no national outrage. But every young life lost is just as precious as the last, no matter what their geographic location happens to be, or what the circumstances are. Instead of heads shaking in judgement, and hands thrown up as if the problem has been given to insolubility, there should be solution oriented ideas put into place. If not, then lives like that of Hadiya Pendleton will be relegated to being the casualties of ghetto battle while the world watches on, relieved that the blood shed is taking place on the other side of the tracks.