Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Nadirah’s Perspective:

On Friday, September 14, I had the privilege of acting in a theatre production of Charles Fuller’s Zooman and the Sign.  For a little background information, Charles Fuller is the famous American playwright that wrote, A Soldier's Play, (later renamed A Soldier’s Story for the film production starring a younger Denzel Washington) for which he received the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.  Anyhoo, Zooman and the Sign is about a black teen named Zooman who aimlessly shoots and kills a young girl named Jinny on her own front porch.  Zooman presents himself as a helpless product of his society, but Jinny’s father, Rueben tries to convince his neighbors that they need to stand together to achieve justice. Rueben decides to place a sign on his property placing blame on the neighbors for not speaking up about what they witnessed in order to bring forth Jinny’s murderer. However, the sign starts to bring about conflict among his wife Rachel, their son Victor, extended family members (Uncle Emmett and Cousin Ash), and other disgruntled neighbors.

Overall, the premise of the story provokes the question of whether or not you would be willing to speak up if you witness a murder or a crime in general.  I know that it’s a tough question to ponder but personally, I feel that it will be my test and duty as a human being to speak up if I witness some form of injustice in the world.  We live in an era where the ideology of “Don’t Snitch” is saturated within rap/song lyrics, television shows, and movies; nevertheless, is this helping or hurting us as a society?  I believe when we master a code of silence, we enable criminals/murderers to continue on their vicious cycles of violence and other various criminal activities.  

Per various news websites, within the city of Chicago, more than 300 people were killed in Chicago between January and July 2012, a nearly 30 percent increase over the last year.  As of last week, that number is up to 374.  Would this number lessen if more people opted to call tip hotlines and/or called the police when threats are spewed aloud on the streets promising revenge to whomever? I’m aware that people are afraid to speak up due to the fear of retaliation if the accused finds out but we have to remind ourselves that if we were placed in the same position of having our love ones gunned down, wouldn’t you want someone to step forward in order to find some resolution and peace when you can place a face with crime. Our children and other innocent victims are being murdered on our streets and even within the sanctity of their home. I’m not saying that this is the ultimate solution to the problem but it definitely could be a start if not a deterrent.


Troy’s Perspective:

With the recent influx in crime in the Chicagoland area, what can we do as a society/community to save our streets and keep our children safe? After having the privilege of being in the audience of the theatre production that was directed by Mr. James Pringle and the Harlem Theater Company of Chicago, it was quite apparent. The production was thought provoking, intriguing and current with the reality that we face in today’s times. The reality was shown that many of us are restricted by our fears (retaliation or the unknown) and therefore don’t do anything to stop criminal activity that some of us witness and/or hear. Relying on the police, teachers and politicians to solve all our problems is not the answer, but the answer is with us all.  We have the moral responsibility to nurture, inform and participate in our community.  If we don’t help each other who will.

As we mature and time passes on, we are destined to change.  I once had the mentality of turning a blind eye and staying out of other peoples’ business. By taking on this approach as a code of the community this will only leave us all to suffer. In some ways, we are all connected and affected by the actions of others which means that the troubles that some face are troubles that we all face as a whole. By doing nothing only perpetuates the dilemma and makes things more difficult. The ideology of “every man for themselves” makes us individualistic and self destructive. What are we teaching our youth? The youth of today have many day to day challenges living in the inner city. Our children will continue to duck and dodge bullets, witness crimes and feel lucky to reach the age 18 unless we speak up, speak out and do something. Because of the unwritten rule of “Don’t be a snitch,” children are getting bullied at school at an alarming rate. Unfortunately, many confrontations with bullies go unnoticed because children are scared to speak up. Often enough, when they decide to speak it’s usually negative (with a weapon causing a life changing situation).

What would you do??? Picture this scenario of an incident involving a man that was terrorizing a neighborhood.  The man was charged with kidnapping, raping and killing several middle school girls. After interviewing several students and members in the community, the man was seen walking around the school in the afternoon when children were being released. A number of students mentioned that the man looked strange at the young girls but were scared to say anything. Numerous members in the community mentioned, they thought it was “quite strange for this man to walk around the school as the kids were getting released,” but failed to speak up. The result is that 4 middle school girls were kidnapped, raped and killed over a span of 2 weeks. What would you do???

The answer is clear, speak up, speak out and do something, the life you may be saving just may be your own or the one that you love.


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