How Long Will I Cry? Voices of Youth Violence is one that I would recommend to everybody in, but not limited to Chicago. DePaul University’s creative writing students flanked out to different communities around the city that are heavily influenced by gang activity and gun violence. Then, they interviewed people that have been involved in gangs, and also those that have suffered because of them. Next, the students took the edited interviews and compiled them into a book. The end result is an amazing first person account of different poverty-stricken areas such as Englewood, Little Village, and Greater Grand Crossing. I appreciate this book for providing not only a look at the bad and criminal activity that goes on in these areas, but also the good people and families that fight everyday for these communities. Because of the stories that news stations choose to report, my community and others like it are looked at as forbidden, faraway places by people within the same city, people who live merely ten minutes away on the expressway. This book gives people who don’t live in these areas insight into what is going on the other side of town. Surprisingly, despite the interesting interviews of former and active gang members, I found the interviews that included a city judge, a public defender, and several community leaders more intriguing. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to what the editor, Miles Harvey, and the students of DePaul University come up with next.
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Inspired by the stories in this book, I will end this post with an incident that occurred on my block a couple of summers ago. I remember being jolted awake by a loud series of pops; I normally sleep rather hard, but I heard this loud and clear–bang, bang, bang. I got out of bed and headed outside. As I stood on the porch, I noticed everyone was outside and all of their eyes were fixed on the same spot; they all glared zombie-like at the corner. There was no noise at all. Everyone was still and silent–except for a high-pitched scream that came from a woman as she raced towards the corner. My friend waved me toward him and asked me to walk down to the corner with him. As we got closer, I began to recognize the boy who was not moving. He was between sixteen and eighteen years old. He use to roam the neighborhood a lot with his friends. I had just saw him earlier in the day. A group of guys decided to stand or “post up” on the corner of our block. I knew it was a bad idea when i saw them. I don’t remember the scene after the shooting being messy. I don’t recall there being a massive amount of blood like on TV. As I stood a few feet away from the first dead body I had ever seen, i wasn’t scared or shocked, but I was terribly saddened for the hysterical woman that hovered over the body, shouting for help. It took awhile for help to arrive. How long? I’m not exactly sure. The police asked if anyone saw anything–silence. The officer got very loud and upset that no one would talk and began to rant. I don’t remember what he said, but it didn’t matter. Nobody spoke. This is a community plagued with gangs, gun violence, and police harassment. Everyone is scared. And it has been that way for a very long time.
About the Author: Phil Purkett Jr.
Founder and Creator of Some Guy in Space. Second of his name. Real cool dude. Sexy.