News stations, newspapers, police commanders, and City Council members are all disseminating information on the high increase of carjackings that is happening in Chicago. Last year showed a huge surge in carjackings and now this year it has remained on the rise. The Chicago Police Department reported a total number of 218 carjackings in the first month of 2021 compared to the total of 77 in 2020. Among those who have been arrested for the offense, most of them are teenagers.
Although it has not been officially disclosed because they are minors, data would support that the teenagers are mostly Black and Hispanic. Chicago Police, alderpeople, and community members have worked together to address this and show some understanding of this complex issue that involves Black children. However they offer solutions that miss the mark instead of tackling this problem and its link to a systemic issue. City officials recognize that schools not holding in-person instruction due to the pandemic are a contributing factor to the spike. Yet they have not acknowledged that this is connected to decades-long disinvestment of Black and Brown communities in the South and West sides of Chicago.
There are healthcare inequities and higher rates of unemployment among the Black community. Moreover, Black people in Chicago are afforded far less accessibility to jobs that provide a living wage. The pandemic has exacerbated these issues, raising the level of difficulty they have to experience. Many are placing the primary responsibility on Black parents while overlooking the reality that they do not have what they need to lead their children to a productive and bright future. We should not impart blame onto parents and guardians who are doing the best they can, nor carry out punitive measures to punish our children. We should be approaching this problem with a racial equity lens.
We need to find answers to these questions: What do our Black children need? How can we support their parents and guardians? What are systemic problems linked to this issue? How can we address these problems that create a pathway for transformative justice? We must ask Black community members, young and old, these questions, listen to their concerns, and value their input. Some will say that does not include police, and I would agree with them. There are multiple historical events and research that supports the fact that police add more incidents of violence. So instead of partnering with Chicago Police, let’s believe in the power of community, unite with our neighbors, collaborate on finding equitable solutions, and demand investment in our people.