Dear Member of the International Olympic Committee:
We expect you've been hearing about how diverse our city is and what a boon the games would be for the various neighborhoods who have suffered from lack of investment and few opportunities.
Several prominent African-American journalists are troubled by the zeal and immense concentration of public and private resources marshaled on behalf of the bid. Today, Dawn Turner Trice of the Chicago Tribune writes that the children of Chicago deserve at least as much attention as the 2016 bid.
Chicago 2016 Olympics: Chicago's children deserve Olympian effort, too
On election night last November, Chicago was stage-set as the world watched. Grant Park
teemed with people of different races who stood side by side, hugging,
cheering and crying. One of the city's favorite sons, a black man, had
achieved the seemingly impossible feat of winning the White House.
night showed a Chicago in her ideal. But the city -- whose mayor is
hoping once again to cast it in the best light for the 2016 Olympics --
has a dark side. Despite its dazzling profile and the
self-congratulation attendant to an Olympic bid, Chicago can never
truly be a world-class city until it figures out how to save its
Consider this: The Black Star Project, an advocacy
group that mentors and tutors black and Latino students, has counted 53
children and teens under 18 who have been killed in Chicago from Sept.
2, 2008, to Sept. 2, 2009.
"Since the Iraq war started in 2003, we've lost 10 soldiers who resided in this city, and that's awful," said Phillip Jackson,
executive director of Black Star. "But during that same time, we've
lost about 300 of our children. So you tell me: Is this not a war?"
is indeed. And the proof from some of the city's most embattled
communities breaks your heart. You remember 9-year-old Chastity Turner,
who was fatally shot in the neck in June as she gave her dogs a bath
outside her father's home in the Englewood neighborhood.
months before her, Gregory Robinson, 14, was gunned down in the back
seat of a car in the 1100 block of West 110th Place. He died slumped
over two younger relatives, whom family members believe he was trying
Despite the city's recent launch of an anti-violence campaign designed to offer intensive counseling and a job to the Chicago Public Schools
students most in danger of becoming victims, two teenagers in the
city's schools already have been killed in gun violence this school
Corey McClaurin, 17, was a senior at Simeon Career Academy High School. Corey Harris, 17, was a basketball player at Dyett High School. Seven other students have been shot this month.
2016's stewardship report touts the benefits to children of hosting the
games. The report says: "The surplus produced by the 1984 Los Angeles
Games provided the funding for the LA84 Foundation, which has committed
more than $185 million to youth sport programs in Southern California.
Similar opportunity will be provided to Chicago youth as a result of
the 2016 Games."
That sounds good, but a recent report from a
RAND Corp. study reminds us that too many of Los Angeles' youth
continue to struggle.
The report found that those growing up
in South Central's gang-infested communities amid violence have higher
rates of post-traumatic stress disorder than children growing up in
"All of these kids are casualties," said Jackson.
"Who can study in a school in LA or Chicago when they're worried about
whether they're going to be alive tomorrow?"
Olympics Committee on Friday will pick a host city in the four-way race
among Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo.
Regardless of which city is chosen, it's no small endeavor that Mayor Richard Daley was able to marshal so many resources to get Chicago this close.
found a chief executive who persuaded a lot of people to volunteer
their time and donate millions to an effort in which they believed.
there's no one event or thing that will immediately solve the complex
stew of problems affecting youth who are at risk. Finding a solution
will take a tremendous team approach that requires families and
communities to pull their weight.
But Chicago 2016 provides a template for mobilizing the dollars and the will to make something really big happen.
know that if Chicago wins the bid, the city's beautiful skyline will
glow in the spotlight. But maybe getting something so grand would help
us work to realize a city whose true beauty lies within.