News all summer in Chicago has been about the shooting and killing.  Mostly on the south and west sides of the city.  It is a ‘statistical aberration’ according to some.

Hunting culture.  Killing culture.  I’ve been trying to sort it out.  A gun lies silent and inert before you.  Early morning in the corner of a farmhouse kitchen it represents uncles gathering to hunt deer.  Flashed at you on a city street means fear and death.

It is the wild late 1980s on the West Side and I remember one lunch, sitting at a small table near the back of Penelope’s on Ashland just north of the Eisenhower.   Alone.  Lulled by chicken vegetable soup and warm bread slathered in butter.  Relaxed, I am staring out the window at traffic.

Outside, on the street, a man sticks his head around the edge of the window, staring in for a moment.  He disappears.  Five seconds later he reappears in the doorway holding a pistol.  I am staring at him and then I remember that the back door is near me and I start rising from my chair my legs now strong and turning me as I realize that I can get to and out the door quickly.

He announces ‘police’.  I decide to believe him.  A worker comes from the kitchen.  Someone accidentally activated the silent alarm.  I learn something new about Penelope’s.  No longer relaxed I walk back to the corps building.

This 5 minute video at PBS Online Film Festival is poignant.  It is what it is for 9 year old Jyeshria living in an urban killing zone in Richmond CA.  It is not relaxing for her and her family.

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