LETTERS: We Have To Help Our Own Kids This Summer

Sunday, June 30, 2019 || LETTERS || @maywoodnews

It is summer in Chicago and we know what that means for our young Black people: trouble. Summer in Chicago is often a war zone — shootings, fights, mass group actions at the mall and more trouble. 

The news headlines about Black and Brown Chicago youth are almost exclusively negative. Our youth are also the targets of negative stereotypes and racial profiling.  However, I argue that undesirable behavior isn’t because our youth are bad; rather they are bored. 

Our community lacks the organized resources and programming to keep our young people energized and out of trouble. Thus, this is a desperate call to the adults and the Proviso community to create affordable summer programs for all youth.

What currently exists are activities and programs that are unaffordable for most people, in addition to issues related to work hours, transportation and a welcoming environment for young people of color, leaving these young folks to make their own fun, their own trouble. This means, during the summers, we can keep them safe, but how?

We may have to fund our own programs

We, all of us, not just nonprofits, often depend on external funding to create service projects. Historically, community groups had to look internally for support. For example, the Black Panther Party, churches and other organizations during the Civil Rights fight had to look inwardly to support their community and not depend on government or external funds.

Their activities were funded by us, the adults in the community — grandmas, aunties and neighbors organizing meals for anyone in the community who needed food and creating jobs and programs for our young people.

I believe we have become so dependent on gifts, charities, and government funding for youth programming, that we forget our own power. We forget our own resourcefulness to take care of our young people ourselves.

We are here again, without outside money flooding into Proviso Township this summer. So my suggestion is to do what we did back then, that is, to come together — adults, institutions, and churches and dig deep, open our doors and share resources so that our young people will have quality programs this summer. 

I am confident that our own community has the necessary tools and resources to take care of our youth, ourselves. We can make sure that all of our kids are fed, all of our kids have some place safe to go, and all of our kids can actively participate in something that is productive. We have so many talented adults living in Chicago, such as designers, musicians, writers, singers, dancers, engineers, lawyers, doctors, scientist, politicians and so much more! 

Many believe that it takes so much more than it does to do something with young folks. I urge you to use your talents, gifts and/or money to share with the young people in the Chicagoland area this summer.

As for me and my contribution, I hope to have an Afrocentric Black School summer program this for kids in the neighborhood and would like help in locating and funding a venue to make this a free for all youth. If unable to find the funding for an affordable place to meet, I will open my home. I am planning for there not to be foundation/government money to pay for it. I’m going to work some young folks in our community, even if I have to do it at my house, and if possible, with a budget under $100.

This may mean having classes in basement, backyard, and my kitchen table.  Nonetheless, we will take field trips to the movies (most theaters have free movies for kids in summer) and to the museum on the free days.   

It may not be the best program or even the school that I initially envisioned, but it is something that I can do without external funding. And, I’m not special. All adults, all of us, can do something. My charge to every adult, every business, every organization in Chicago is to prioritize our young people this summer. Let’s get as many summer programs and activities available, so there will be no reason for them to get bored and land in trouble.

Historically, we have always taken care of our own communities. We don’t need grants from the government or money from foundations to provide opportunities for our young people. We just have to be committed to doing it — to doing something.  After all, it still takes a village to raise our children and it’s the challenge of Chicago to offer opportunities for every kid this summer.

Chicagoans, especially Black Chicagoans, I believe in us to save us. VFP

— ShaRhonda Knott-Dawson, Broadview

Contact: thevillagefreepress@gmail.com | Facebook: @maywoodnews 

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