The Black Lives That Impact More in Chicago

The Black Lives That Impact More in Chicago


On average, 12 people are shot in Chicago every day. According to the Chicago Tribune, the number of shootings in 2016 currently stands at 2,949. As the nation celebrated summer’s last hurrah with the Labor Day holiday earlier this week, Chicago marked its 500th homicide for the year, thus far–that’s more than the current number of murders in New York City and Los Angeles, combined.

Let’s face the facts here: this rampant crime and outrageous disregard for life extends beyond law enforcement, or even, frankly, race. It’s an equity issue. Impoverished communities without opportunity; essentially, underserved and lacking the basics to function within the system of free enterprise, basically, the ability create jobs, manifest these deficiencies through crime, destruction, apathy, and, largely, hopelessness.

The black lives impacting Chicago more are those taking ownership of the social ills and spearheading a new day in their communities, and by extension, city. To create real change, we must all move beyond what we’re against and move toward what we’re for, and then act on that.

This wonderful American city needs “a public army for good.” Right. Now. Are you willing to serve? Consider the ways you can help uplift Chicago, today–then, go do it.

1. Can you volunteer an hour a month? Change a life? Help people register to vote? Sign the petition.

2. Can you mentor a young person in your community? Lean in. Sign the petition.

3. Can you become and entrepreneur and start a local business? Create jobs? Sign the petition.

4. Can you invest? Buy property? Sign the petition.

5. Can you provide an internship for a young person? Prepare them for a job and success? Sign the petition.

6. Can you lead the charge for quality education for your community by starting a charter school or helping to save a local public school? Poverty eradication through education? Sign the petition.

7. Can you start a community group, volunteer at a non-profit organization, or advocate for community gardens and greenspaces within your community? Sign the petition.

8. Regardless of where you live, can you encourage Operation HOPE, Inc. and other organizations to come in–on the ground in a big way to help empower communities with financial literacy education and entrepreneurship training? Sign the petition.

Publications like Black Enterprise–which is essentially the Wall Street Journal of the black community–should be required reading on every street corner in Chicago.There should be clubs throughout every neighborhood organized around Chicago’s essential revitalization–the creation of a sustainable business class. All of this leading to a generation of jobs, leading to a ceasing of violence, and a restoration of hope. As my friend Van Jones once said, “The best way to stop a bullet, is a job.”

There should be 700-credit score clubs in every neighborhood, because nothing changes your life more–other than God or love–than moving your credit score 120 points. You see, predatory lenders are not racist. They are target marketers, and they are targeting a 500-credit score customer. They are targeting places like the South Side of Chicago; they are targeting poor people.

We have untapped entrepreneurial and business talent in our community, but we just recognize it differently. What do we really think a drug dealer is, if not an illegal, unethical entrepreneur? What do we think a gang organizer is, if not a frustrated union organizer? Do we really believe that a young lady ‘chooses’ and prefers to work at a strip club, or is this essentially an economic choice? Are not all of the above examples, in essence, really bad economic choices from people who are aspirational, but who do not know better, so cannot do better?

From the underground and unsustainable economies that currently drive places like the South Side of Chicago, to the unfortunate choices that far too many young people and even adults make in an effort to make a living, all too often come down to economics, money, and poverty. Note that there is a difference between being poor and being broke. Being broke is economic, but being poor is a disabling frame of mind and a depressed condition of one’s spirit.  And so, poor people–meaning poor in spirit; depressed and lacking hope–will do ‘whatever they feel they have to’ in order to survive; even robbing, beating, fighting rival gangs over territory, and killing innocent victims–such as shooting an elderly man watering the grass in front of his own home, or the murder of mother of four, Nykea Aldridge–in the crossfire.

Chicago’s problem is not too much police, or too little. It is about the choices we make about the culture, values, and priorities in and for our community that manifests in a lack of hope, a lack of opportunity, and a lack of jobs. This is not sustainable; it is not sustainable for Chicago, and it is not sustainable for a race of people. We must vow to never, ever, be poor again. This comes down to building an economy for all; it comes down to building Black Enterprise.

It takes 20 years to change a culture. In the last 20 years, we have made “dumb” sexy; we have dumbed down and celebrated it. Now, we must make smart sexy again. This is my vision for the next 20 years, starting with the plan we have at Operation HOPE, launched in 2014 and 2015, and will cover the next five years, through year 2020.

The way forward is building up communities stifled by a lack of equity. Under the banner of “Silver Rights”–the right to financial literacy, access to capital, and equity of opportunity for all–Operation HOPE is leading a new movement of economic inclusion.

Project 5117 is HOPE’s multi-year, four-pronged approach to combating economic inequality that aims to improve financial literacy, increase business role models and business internships for youth, and stabilize the American dream by boosting credit scores.

Through a powerful new initiative based on sustainable, transformational, community change at scale, Operation HOPE is accelerating the packaging and deployment of Project 5117 programs throughout the nation to revive the economy, particularly in hard-hit urban cities now consumed with neighborhood ills, like predatory lending and low credit scores, to strengthen low- and middle-income families. America Uplift 2020 is in motion now in cities like Detroit, Las Vegas, and Atlanta, and soon, with your engagement, will extend into Chicago.


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Sign the petition here. Tell a friend.

John Hope Bryant is an American entrepreneur, author, philanthropist, and prominent thought leader on economic empowerment and financial dignity. He is the founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Operation HOPE, Inc., and chairman and chief executive officer of Bryant Group Ventures. He is the author of bestsellers, “How the Poor Can Save Capitalism: Rebuilding the Path to the Middle Class”, and “LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World”.