Why isn’t Chicago’s violence crisis treated like suburban heroin epidemic?

We are accustomed to seeing grieving mothers who have lost a son to violence.

Hardly a day goes by that we don’t come upon a video on a newspaper website, on social media or local TV news of a woman at the scene of a shooting, screaming to hold her child one last time.

Her tears are genuine and her heart is broken. That much is clear. Her raw emotion draws us in, but we don’t truly feel her pain. Because the violence that claimed her son seems like such a faraway thing that could never happen to us.

After the crime scene is cleared and the details of the shooting come out, the story is often the same. A young black male was shot by a young black male, likely in retaliation for the shooting of another young black male.

We wonder how a mother who loved her son so much could be blind to the life he led. Most likely, she knew. Mothers almost always do.

In many ways, she is no different from a suburban mother who loses a child to heroin. We cringe at the thought of a promising young kid with prosperity at his fingertips throwing it away on drugs. But increasingly, we’re hearing that story.

When a suburban child dies of an overdose, we don’t immediately point a finger at the mother. We don’t question whether she was unmarried or divorced and raising the child alone. We assume she did all she could to save him and that the lure of the drug was too much. It terrifies us because that child could have been our own.

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