South Side youth speaking truth, confronting power

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In the final two installments of  the Chicago Reporter’s “Too Young To Die” series, Kari Lydersen looks at young people struggling to find positive directions in communities torn by violence.

In Woodlawn, Fearless Leading by the Youth (FLY), organized by Southside Together Organizing for Power, carries out direct-action campaigns around housing, health care, police brutality, and other sociall and economic justice issues.  They recently joined a sit-in at the mayor’s office to defend the city’s mental health clinics.

And motivated by the shooting death of a founding member, 18-year-old Damien Turner, they’ve fought for a trauma center at the University of Chicago Medical Center.  Turner died at Northwestern Hospital after being shot blocks away from UCMC.

Rappers Carlos and Young DBoy Low work with Project Spitfire, which uses music to help young people break free of the cycle of gangs, drugs, and violence.  It’s not at all easy, says DBoy, especially since “rival gangs don’t care about you wanting what we call ‘out.’ They don’t care about you changing your life and wanting to raise your kids in a different environment….

“See, you can try to erase your own past, but you can’t erase the pain someone else has suffered due to the hands of your gang sign.”

DBoys songs tell the stories of his life, featuring “delicate images mixed with harsh realities.” Check out the lyrics to “Too Young To Die.

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