From top: Scott Joplin school formerly ‘The Little Flower’ in Chicago’s southside, the neighbourhood where Dan Boyle (above) spent his earliest years.
I was eight years of age when my family left Chicago. We lived on the Southside, the baddest part of town. I never felt particularly threatened, but my Mother was sufficiently uncomfortable to want to bring us to Ireland at the earliest opportunity.
Although I was young, there are memories I will always carry with me. Memories like my Dad coming home with his car windscreen smashed, having been at the wrong set of traffic lights on the day that Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered.
I would have been aware of the tension, if not the context, of the Yippie riots at the Democratic Party Convention.
Despite these triggers, my parents always stressed the importance of accepting people, all people, as being equal. Although sadly, others in the Irish community, would indulge in a more knee-jerk response.
The school my sisters and I went to, was the local public school – secular, ethnically and gender mixed. My memories of there were largely happy.
I have visited Chicago twice since. The area, where we lived, now has an African-American bias, but physically has changed little.
The school has become fortified. This had happened after the principal was shot dead by a white student.
The local high school has had a name change. What once had been called Little Flower, after St. Theresa, was now named after the ragtime pianist, Scott Joplin. That made me smile.
Less mirth=inducing is the fact that Chicago now boasts more gun deaths, per annum, than Afghanistan.
While many of these deaths are drug related, itself a symptom of years of economic and social isolation, there are those who argue that failure to accommodate racial differences lies at the heart of this tragedy.
Many who make these arguments see themselves as victims – the great lost white tribe of the Western plains. Some of these were present at the ‘Friends of Donald’ rally at Charlottesville, Virginia.
Their victimhood has been enhanced, particularly by the King of Inarticulacy’s inability, but more likely unwillingness, to call out the vile creed they promote.
I feel for the country where I was born, the country that gave my family opportunity. It will, eventually, see a return to more wholesome values.
The fear is what damage, what real terror, will it inflict on itself before then.