On Chicago’s Invisible Violence, and Derrion Albert’s Death.

By Guest Columnist Sep 30, 2009

by Henry Cervantes, writing from Chicago’s West Side. Nadashia Thomas, 6, a cousin of Derrion Albert, holds a sign beside a poster of Derrion Albert at Fenger High School in Chicago, Sept. 28, 2009. A vigil for Derrion Albert was planned outside of Fenger High School. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) Derrion Albert, just 16 years of age, an Honors Student with a promising future for his community is but the latest young person claimed by the violence in the streets of Chicago. The video footage of his violent death, which was captured on a cell phone, has spread like wildfire over the Internet, and again has gotten the issue of youth street violence in Chicago on the national scenes of the media. The violent deaths of young people in the streets of Chicago is nothing new to its residents. It is but a part of the vivid realities of what the young people of color face here every day. It is a part of the lessons that Chicago Public Schools students learn daily. The media and its consumer-driven culture and coverage does never fully speak to the issues at hand. His death is simply just another story added to the front pages and serves as footage which fills the screens on our nightly and daily violent news. I remember vividly a reporter who covered the story on NBC stating that "this is not the type of public image Chicago wants to project, especially on the verge of its big Olympic bid." The coverage ends with the reporter stating that "a boy was in the wrong place at the wrong time" Even though this young person was on his way home from school, and in front of a community center. But looking at the facts, it seems as if he was on the right path, which was shattered by the oppression of street violence. How many more deaths of young people is it gonna take for the establishment to understand the desperate needs of our community. I believe these acts of violence are but expressions of something else. This visible violence only adds to the broader forms of invisible violence. It criminalizes youth of color who lead lives of survival in our communities. It leads to further the police state in our public school systems. It sends young people of color off to the prison blocks It leaves our communities further marginalized. And It only leaves questions unanswered. Whats brings forth these vicious forms of violence? And who directly benefits from the death of these youth? Young people are not the problem but the solution to these issues. Young people know firsthand we’re to find meaningful and sustainable solutions to this violence. An issue that lingers between life and death. But where are the youth voices on the evening network newsrooms? — Henry Cervantes serves as Telpochcalli Community Education Project‘s student leadership coordinator at Farragut Career Academy High School, in Chicago.