Fountain: A sobering reality about murder in black America

SHARE Fountain: A sobering reality about murder in black America

A family member holds Nykea Aldridge’s infant daughter while mourning Aldridge’s death. Aldridge, who was black, was gunned down in August in the South Side Parkway Gardens neighborhood. Brothers Derren and Darwin Sorrells, also black, were charged in her death. | Sun-Times file photo by Ashlee Rezin

A brother would never shoot me at point-blank range in the face. Never lie in wait to steal my life. Would never sell drugs to my mother. Never poison our community. Not a black man. Not my brother.

No brother would allow himself to become the worst enemy of the state of Black America.

A brother would never lure a 9-year-old boy from a playground to an alley and execute him to allegedly settle a score with his father. Would never stand over a wounded pregnant woman and pump her body with bullets as she pleads for her life, wounding her unborn child, leaving him severely brain damaged. Nope.

A brother wouldn’t do that. Not in a million years. Would you rather believe the truth being played out daily in black and white and pools of red? Or some conspiracy theory that the KKK in Rastafarian wigs and ski masks are secretly at the root of all this killing? Because brothers don’t do that.

The truth? Some brothers do.


I face the greater threat of having my brains splattered by a brother on the street than by a rogue cop during a traffic stop. So does potentially every black male. My sons. My uncles. My nephews…

That is the sobering water I tread daily as a black man in America.

Except all of these are stories I have reported. Still, I vacillate between this cold reality and the searing disbelief that we could do this to each other.

A brother, a fellow black male — after nearly 250 years of slavery and centuries of racial hate against us — would never allow himself to become an instrument of genocide, self-appointed inflictor of fratricide, domestic terrorist, modern-day lyncher who leaves behind a trail of new strange fruit.

No brother would cowardly execute a promising young prizefighter sitting in a car after a night training session. Would never become a de facto instrument of white regentrification.

Would never fatally shoot a 15-year-old over a pair of overpriced sneakers made in an overseas sweatshop. Would never decapitate a toddler and cast his head in a murky park lagoon. Never shoot a baby girl sitting on her daddy’s lap. Or murder another brother outside his parent’s home while heisting his motorcycle.

A brother would never fatally shoot a 6-month old girl being pushed in her stroller by her mom — her blue and green knit bonnet bloodied from the bullet that penetrated her skull. Not a brother.

Brothers would never kill each other with reckless disregard to the tune of thousands each year nationwide, hundreds of murders this year alone in the city of Chicago, mostly in black and brown neighborhoods — with reportedly 4,048 shooting victims, more than 12 a day, through Nov. 30.

Let the blame casting begin…

“It’s poverty and jobs,” some say.

We were poor before, and yet, we didn’t slaughter each other.

“The term ‘black-on-black crime’ is a racist sociological construct.”

If we don’t deal with the elephant in the room, how can we ever get better?

“…Well, murder and violent crime nationwide have actually gone down.”

Easy to say when you don’t live in the hood.

“It’s racism.”

OK, but what about us?

The threat to life and limb to children along the path from home to school in poor black neighborhoods emanates from being caught in the crossfire of killers in search of vengeance, seeking to settle social media beefs or drug and gang disputes. But, of course, a brother would never do that.

I know of a litany of victims who would beg to differ — if they were alive to tell their story.


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