A Healthy Chicago, Peace by Peace

Cook County Hospital house staff officers on strike in 1975. Photo courtesy of the Chicago Tribune.

Cook County Hospital house staff officers on strike in 1975. Photo courtesy of the Chicago Tribune.

Jack Pizzy is a British filmmaker who began his career as a television anchor and reporter. His documentary I Call It Murder was first aired on the BBC television program Man Alive in 1979. The film depicts Cook County Hospital in Chicago before it closed in 1975 due to a lack of funding. Because the hospital was public, many of Chicago’s poor communities relied on its services. The documentary focuses on violence as being a major problem in Cook County; most of the patients suffered from severe gun and knife wounds. Pizzy even remarks of Cook County saying,

The most common fatal complication of pregnancy is gunshot wounds.

The documentary also shows that many of the fatally injured patients at Cook County Hospital were initially turned away by other hospitals because of poverty and racism — since many of the patients lacked medical insurance and were Black or Latino. Perhaps more depressing is that nearly forty years later, the interplay of poverty, racism, violence and access to healthcare still exists.

Infographic courtesy of The Red Line Project.

Infographic courtesy of The Red Line Project.

Over the past few years Chicago has seen a spike in gun violence. Colorlines writer Jamilah King notes in her article “5 Must-Know Facts About Chicago’s Gun Violence” that 506 people were killed by gun violence in Chicago in the past year. King also points to a New York Times infographic that illustrates how poor Black communities are most affected by gun violence in Chicago and that nearly half of those killed are under the age of 25.

The nonprofit organization DoSomething — aimed at encouraging youth activism — has a survey that asks young people questions about their sense of personal safety and ways they think gun violence can be reduced. This survey is a great starting point to engage with youth in your own life, brainstorm ideas to create a more safe and secure community and actions you can take to implementing those ideas concretely.

by Rebecca McCarthy

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