Summer Wake-Up Call: How Many People Were Shot in Philly Last Night?
Even though it’s vacation season, I have grown to hate the summer.
It’s an eerie time of year. Each morning, the news reports stories about the ways in which the city transforms at nightfall and how many people have died overnight.
I have known those among the fatalities.
The news reports on the familiar spaces where I’ve grown up, but in ways I’ve never known them. And just like that, they become foreign to me, forever estranged.
The summer makes me paranoid. I cringe every time I hear my dad or boyfriend say they’ll “be back later,” terrified that they will be tomorrow’s headline. I study their faces on the way out the door. I listen intently at the timbre of their voices, out of fear that one of them could be a bystander to someone else’s carelessness.
Last week, the city experienced a few days of summer-like weather. And like that, two double shootings, one triple shooting and one quadruple shooting were reported last week, according to the Gun Crisis Reporting Project.
As always, I listened out for the neighborhoods where the shootings were reported: The 100 block of South 54th Street is right down the street from my uncle’s house. Overbook High School is a 10-minute drive from my apartment.
At times like this, death feels exactly like summer air—heavy, sticky and pervasive. I am made acutely aware at just how connected the city is and how vulnerable that can make any of us.
Following the Newtown shooting, CNN reported that Philadelphia’s homicide rate was the worst among America’s largest cities, with African-Americans making up 85 percent of gun violence victims.
I am of the belief that it’s restlessness that fuels the steady uptick of violence in the city. When structural supports breakdown, individuals who no longer feel they have a stake the system operate outside of it to survive.
The local poverty rate rests at 31 percent for African-Americans, according to a 2012 report by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
As summer comes, I make plans about other places I can be, away from Philadelphia’s O.K. Corral. But I know that not everyone can get away from it. What I fear most in summer is, for some, a year-long inescapable reality.
No days off.