At the sound of the doorbell, a grinning, lapping dog bounds to the front door, a young blond-headed boy chasing after him. The foyer is warm and inviting, the fading beams of sunlight on that late September afternoon dancing across the walls, which are lined with pictures. Pictures of blonde-haired, blue-eyed children in jerseys, the number “22” worn proudly on their chests.
The house is full of life, worn with love. A “home” in every sense of the word.
It’s not what you picture when you hear the words “heroin overdose.”
You might imagine the stories with Not So Happy Endings. You might picture dirty needles, tired souls and illness. And you’re probably thinking about all of the Kurt Cobains, the Janis Joplins. The strung out, hollowed junkies, as thin and pale as paper.
Don’t. Because that’s not who this story is about.
There are a lot of things I considered when finding my first apartment: roommates, price, appliances, location, proximity to public transport, even the ins and outs of different deposit policies and lease agreements played a roll in where I’d end up living.
That was all about six months ago. I found roommates, we shopped around and moved into our place in Boystown in August. Don’t get me wrong –– things are going well. We all get along, decorations are coming together, and it’s been a really fun adjustment into a major part of adulthood. But as I continue my time at DePaul and keep exploring Chicago, I’d be lying if I said my wheels weren’t already turning about what we’re going to do when our lease is up. There are so many areas of the city where rent seems cheaper and activity seems higher –– Logan Square, Ukrainian Village, Pilsen, Uptown –– all areas that seem to constantly pop up in feature pieces and Top 10 lists for new restaurants, concert venues, art galleries, all things that I’m not ashamed to say appeal to me (and did I mention the cheaper rent part, too?).
The movement of three muscles and a fourth of a second are all it takes to fire a gun.
But the consequences can defy numbers.
It is these potential consequences that are part of the argument surrounding a bill that was pre-filed in early January by Republican State Sen. Kevin Bryant from Anderson.
Mass shooting here. Protest turned violent there. Innocent bystanders killed.
In a church. In a school. In a club, a movie theater, a neighborhood street.
Nine, 20, 50 people.
Mothers, fathers, daughters and sons.
Flowers are laid, memorials erected. Family photos, baby pictures and sentiments of lives cut short are scattered across the sidewalks and walls that have witnessed horror in the truest form.
But eventually, the sting of tragedy subsides.
The tears dry, the flowers wilt and people begin moving again, rather unchanged.
It’s all too routine.
Over the last three years there have been over 1,000 mass shootings and acts of violence. Some of these acts have divided the nation while others have brought people together, but the reality remains the same: not much has changed, and the violence roars on.
In June of 2015, Charleston was in the national headlines as news of the Emanuel 9 shooting at Emanuel AME Church broke.
However, Charleston was revered nationally for the city’s unity and outward expressions of compassion in the days and weeks following this tragedy rather than its divisiveness. Since then, over a year has passed and the question must be asked:
How has Charleston recovered, learned and progressed from this experience?
“It could have been us.”
For Don Flowers, the shootings of the nine parishoners of Mother Emanuel AME Church on June 17, 2015, hit all too close to home.
“It was at a Bible study, something that happens here every day,” said Flowers, who is the minister of Providence Baptist Church on Daniel Island. “I think that that is what shocked us out of this idea that we could sit back and let other people deal with this.”
He studied for hours. He took every tutoring course. He poured hours of time, energy and substantial amounts of money into test prep, fees and study books. But when he opened up his test scores, all of that preparation suddenly meant nothing, and overwhelming disappointment took hold.
Joe’s* high GPA, participation on the football team, extracurriculars and excellent teacher recommendations all seemed to wither away in the presence of the “inadequate” score in front of him.
This situation is all too familiar for high school upperclassmen across the nation, especially when it comes time to apply for college. With more people applying to colleges and universities than ever, the pressure to perform well on the SAT/ACT is more real than it’s ever been. However, test results that aren’t always indicative of a student’s achievements begs the question: just how important are standardized tests?
“Today, I’d like to speak on the subject
of breaking chains,” Reverend Dr. William Swinton bellows from his empowering position at the altar.
His deep, compelling voice echoes throughout the church and personifies the stained glass windows that line the walls. Even on a sulking, rainy Sunday in late August, the vibrant stained glass gleams with a brightness that is matched only by the spirit of the congregation itself.
Pews scattered with men, women and children nod, shout and sway their hands to- wards the ceiling in passionate agreement with the pastor’s sermon. Voices of the old and the young entwine with the sonorous tune of the organ: the true sound of human connection.
This is Ebenezer AME Church in Charleston.