Why We Shouldn’t Call Chicago ‘Chiraq’

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Everyone knows how heat makes people crazy. For some reason it always seems like we lose the most in the summertime season of Chicago. What is supposed to be a beautiful time for everyone to enjoy turns into a war zone of massacre and violence. Don’t get me wrong, I love Chicago. But I do not like the reputation that the residents have given it. Chiraq. When I hear others say that word instead of Chicago it infuriates me. It’s almost as if people try to provoke an unnecessary battle not knowing that no one ever wins a war.

People proudly chant it in songs, while standing on street corners, and just because. Do we not see how ignorant it makes us look? No one wants to live somewhere that they do not feel safe. Soldiers on a battlefield NEVER sleep well at night. Yet this is what people call their home. Bad things happen to good people, because hurt people, hurt people. I feel that if people knew where they came from, the power they possess, and the possibilities in the world if they just applied themselves, people wouldn’t feel the need to lie, cheat, or steal from others.

Everyone has been a victim of Chiraq. The business owners who find their property vandalized, the woman who gets mugged walking home, the man who gets car-jacked on the way to his family, the family you see crying on the news that has to bury their loved one. Yet even then, life doesn’t stop, people don’t feel the need to come together and change, they just add the victim’s name to the list and forget about them later. But why do we have to be Chiraq? Why is this name praised? Does anyone see the pain it causes?

Lately, I’ve been trying to come up with the reasons as to why violence might be higher in the summer time (besides the face more people come outside to enjoy the weather) and I couldn’t think of a good reason why there is so much crime this time of year. Unfortunately, it seems like most people are unconcerned with the crime rate because they feel they live in a safe area of Chicago. There is no “better” area of Chicago. Crime is everywhere. The best thing we can do is make sure that as individuals we respect one another, and try to uplift and help one another. Chicago has some people that are doing amazing things to help others. Find them and  become part of the movement! Support those that support positive vibes! Be mindful of others, careful of your surroundings, and know when enough is enough.

This summer I ask you to take a challenge. Take a good look at your surroundings and see what is missing. Then try to fix it. It could be as simple as not littering, which will preserve the beauty of our city. Go volunteer at the soup kitchen, walk away from that argument, listen to that friend in need, plant that garden. Sometimes the most miniscule things can make the largest difference to someone else. You might even save a life. When you realize you have something to lose and everything to gain, you often have a different perspective on life. Your actions change, your thoughts change and then your life changes. There’s this great thing called “happiness” that we all need to start sharing with each other. The best thing about it is that it’s free!!! That my friends is how we will take Chicago back. Hope you’re having a safe and fun summer so far!

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