Tanikia Thompson, also known as Nikki and The City, is an urban media expert from Chicago who loves to travel and report on issues that impact different cultures and communities.
"The high school drop out rate for Black males is more than 50 percent." These were the words spoken by Tim King, co-founder and CEO of Urban Prep Academies in Chicago. Although this statistic is heartbreaking, King delivered this message to an auditorium full of guests who gathered at Urban Prep Englewood to celebrate.
Despite the staggering facts of Black males dropping out of high school, 100 percent of the seniors at two Urban Prep Academy campuses were accepted into college.
"Fact: Urban Prep seniors, these guys, have amassed more than $6 million in grants and scholarships," said Tim King.
This fall seniors will attend a variety of schools across the nation, including an Ivy League university and Morehouse College – one of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
The Tie Ceremony consisted of seniors receiving their red and gold tie, which signifies college acceptance, and a speech from the mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel.
"What this 100 percent proves is that it need not be the exception, but the expectation," said Mayor Emanuel.
As a writer who's constantly reporting on the violence that plagues our city, it's extremely refreshing to witness something great occurring in an area least expected, to the young men we all at one point were guilty of doubting. As Urban Prep students state "We believe", in their creed, their success is causing others to believe as well.
This past year has been unusual.
Multiple shootings in one weekend here in Chicago are normal. That's terrible to say, but it isn't anything new. However, the past two weeks have been peculiar. Along with the normal violence, there have been a lot of random shootings (those who are in no way affiliated with any gang have been targeted), and the unthinkable: shootings at funerals.
As rooftop Pastor Corey Brooks eulogized a funeral of a fallen gang member, rivalries entered the service and opened fire. Sherman Miller was murdered at the funeral, and one week later Pastor Corey Brooks eulogized his funeral as well.
Mayor Rahm Emmanuel warns gang leaders
Are you ready to be patted down before entering the funeral of a fallen gang member? Apparently this will be Chicago's new normal, "Where there's a gang funeral – given that they have shown no respect for a place of worship – we're going to change how they operate. The Police Department is going to change the way they deal with gang funerals", Mayor Rahm Emmanuel.
We have the children, but where is the village?
I appreciate the effort that will be taken to ensure the safety of people at gang members funeral, but how do we get to the root of what's happening in Chicago? To be honest, I'm tired of talking about Chicago being the number one murder capital, and wondering how many shootings will occur each weekend. It's old and seems like nothing is being done to cure this crisis. The city of Chicago can't take all of the blame. President Obama can't take all of the blame. It's time for the village to step up. Where are the parents? And if the parents aren't involved in the lives of these kids, then where are the aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.? I didn't say Grandma, because Grandma can't do it by herself anymore.
I asked my little cousin if he was in a gang.
I sure did. He wasn't doing anything in particular, but he's a teenager in the city of Chicago. My question lead to a conversation with him, and his siblings. I now know for sure that my cousin isn't in a gang, but I have no regrets about confronting him. More people should do it. Especially if all the signs are there. It's upsetting, because a lot of kids are running around looking and acting like mini Chief Keef's, and their families are remaining silent. That's not cool. If I knew someone in my family had the power to hurt someone else, or be another victim in the streets in Chicago, I would do something. I also know for a fact that everyone in my family would do something. Why? Because it takes a village.
I have little respect for the parents and grandparents who act like they're scared of these kids. Seriously, you brought them in this world, so you can... You know the rest.
Say something. Do something. These kids are dying and the village is being silent.