In Chicago, you have one choice. You’re either prey or predator.
That sentiment that was conveyed to Diane Sawyer as she convened her Chicago Violence town hall on ABC last week, and it was distressing to Jet Magazine Senior Editor Kyra Kyles, who joined our latest discussion.
“And the really sad thing was some of the things the gang leaders were saying. They all came into the same room which is definitely a step in the right direction, but most of them were saying they could not think of a single way to fix the way things have gotten,” she says.
“But it really did look like a piece on Afghanistan. You know, you go down into the enemy trenches and you get the war lords together and you try to broker peace. It was depressing.”
Panelist Eric Zorn (Chicago Tribune) said the conversation really highlighted the role technology now plays in urban violence. “It’s like instant graffiti, insulting you,” he says. And Kyles related conversations she’d had with gang members during some earlier reporting.
“If they see a tweet that angers them, they’re going to find the person who sent that tweet right then. And they were asked well, do you think if you waited an hour you’d still take this course of action – and the response was, you don’t have an hour. Here, you just have to act. ”
Both Eric and Kyra expressed frustration with the rate of development of charter schools in Chicago, especially in light of the Wednesday Tribune story about Barbara Byrd Bennett’s involvement with charters in Cleveland, where she was once Superintendent and where charters are not considered especially successful overall.
“I think most people think of it as a slam-dunk,” says Kyles. “The minute you get rid of all these restrictions, learning can just grow unfettered. And we’re seeing that this is not necessarily the case. I wonder if having this publicized in this way will cause them to proceed in a more cautious way when it pertains to just opening the flood gates for charter schools and shuttering Chicago Public Schools.”
“I think this headlong rush toward charters, you need a lot of people who are saying – wait a minute,” added Zorn. “And I don’t see that in this administration. Say your parents don’t care? Say you’re living in a bad neighborhood and your parents don’t care about education. So then the City just writes you off and doesn’t try to improve your school.”
Both panelists agree that Barack Obama bested Mitt Romney in the second and third debates. But Zorn says he thinks the president’s most important criticism was of Romney’s “1950’s social policy”.
“In his heart I don’t think he accepts gay people. Obviously he doesn’t accept marriage equality, and I think a number of things about the way society has evolved don’t really fit with the world view that he grew up with, that he’s comfortable with, “he says. “He seems like a dad in a TV show when I was a little kid. And there’s that sense that that’s the kind of America that he would like us to go back to. ”