Jabari Parker Writes Post About Gun Violence in Chicago

Jabari Parker, forward for the Milwaukee Bucks, was fortunate to escape the violence that ripples Chicago. However, his memories of living on the South side of Chicago are etched with gun shots. Parker recently penned a heartfelt blog post sharing his Chicago story. Check it out below:

What kept me safest, though, was my neighborhood. Throughout Chicago there are little communities where, no matter what’s going on — drug dealers, gangs —  everyone is looking out for each other. One of my neighbors, Mr. Johnson, was an older man who had served in the military. When I was in elementary school, he’d have me over to his house to play video games with his son. And then on the other side was Mr. Brown. His grandson and I always used to play ball because he had a hoop. All day, we’d just play outside and older folks would look out for us. No matter how bad we were at the time, they weren’t ever so slow to check on us.

As close-knit as those neighborhoods were, though, you could get stuck in them. Man, I have a bunch of family members who have never left Chicago. Nothing but the same stuff every day.

By the seventh grade, when I took Ms. Reed’s history class, I came to realize that I didn’t have to be stuck. All of a sudden, right here in Chicago, in that classroom, I learned that there was something more than just my neighborhood on the South Side.

Our textbooks may have been 20 years out of date, but Ms. Reed opened my eyes. She had us read Frederick Douglass and other black writers. She had us read poetry and plays by African-Americans.

We’d watch Spike Lee films and old VHS tapes on Jean Baptiste Point DuSable and W.E.B. Du Bois. When I learned about authors like Maya Angelou or inventors like John Albert Burr and Frederick McKinley Jones, it changed my whole perspective of who I was, and who I could be.

Everything else around us — TV, movies, music — mostly seemed to show us a limited image of what it meant to be black. An athlete. A rapper. A drug-dealing gangster. There are not a lot of kids from the ghetto who see themselves as the next Steve Jobs. And that’s because there are not a lot of people telling them that they can do whatever they want to do.

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