President Obama and the "First Family" are headed home to Chicago on Thursday. It will be the Obama family's first trip home since Valentine's Day Weekend 2009, while the President has made two solo trips to the Windy City since then.
But there's one place that's almost never likely to be on Mr. Obama's itinerary: the 'hood.
To be honest, Obama's posh Kenwood neighborhood isn't that far from "the 'hood" to begin with. If you drive a mile west, you will see the despair on the faces of folks who hang out at the local McDonald's- across the street from the Employment office. I know this well, because I work in an office nearby. While the area is being revitalized, it still represents the economic condition of many inner city neighborhoods across the country. Given Chicago's notorious reputation for violence, it would mean a lot for Mr. President to have a private meeting with community organizers - one of whom he used to be - to help assuage this urgent problem.
Let's face it: the violence is proof that the euphoria of a black president wore off very soon after Election Day 2008. The day after the election, young men of various backgrounds in my neighborhood stuck their chests out at the notion that history had been made. Some of them pulled their pants up and even spoke graciously to their elders. But only a few days later, things went back to normal. For them, it might be good to see a black president on TV, but even better if they could see him in person.
The Bible tells us that we walk by faith, and not by sight. But what young brothers are "seeing" is affecting the level of faith that they have. They don't see the faith, which is the substance of hope. So, they end up believing in the "Audacity of Hope," but not in the same light that Mr. Obama covers the topic in his autobiography of the same name. It's hard to have long-term goals when it's still difficult for young men of color (both Black and Latino) to reach their 25th birthdays due to suicide and homicide rates.
Some might say that the President can't visit tough neighborhoods for security reasons. But he has the best security in the world! (I'm not just writing that because they are reading this blog.) I feel that his presence would quell some of the violence. Folks might forget about turf wars and beef and get out their camera phones. You never know...
All we have left is hope. Don't take that away from us.