A week ago 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was performing in a celebration that will go down in the history books: President Barack Obama's second inauguration. Today the teen is dead. She was shot in the back of the head in a Chicago neighborhood.
It's another sad story of gun violence in America. And it's another reminder of how unsafe we really are. After all, Hadiya was in a park, in a so-called safe neighborhood.
One block away were upscale condos. Nearby was Hadiya's high school. And neighbors said they were shocked by the shooting because shootings in that part of town are rare.
Even more confusing: Pendleton wasn't a gang member. She wasn't a troublemaker. She was an honor student, volleyball player, and majorette who'd earned the honor of performing at the president's inauguration.
Cops say whoever jumped over the parked fence and began shooting at the teenagers standing under a canopy waiting for rain to abate likely didn't plan to hit the 15-year-old. She was every bit the innocent bystander.
Now she's gone. Another child, dead.
It makes me sad. It makes me angry. And it makes me even more afraid.
We live in the sort of town where if you see a cop car, you worry because it means something bad must have happened. I know people who still refuse to lock their doors. They leave the car running at the post office. They let their kids walk home from the bus stop without thinking twice about danger.
I would consider it a "safe" neighborhood. But what does that even mean?
Hadiya Pendleton was a good kid in a safe neighborhood, and she was shot to death at just 15. This is reality in America. Safe neighborhoods aren't really "safe."
We still have the occasional murder in my neck of the woods. Sure, they happen every few years, and they are so rare that everyone is shaken to the core. But they happen. We had two banks robbed within days of each other a few years back. Our gas station attendant was held up at gunpoint. And for awhile there we couldn't seem to keep a postal employee because they kept getting arrested.
We all like to think we play it safe, that we protect ourselves and our kids. But tragedies like this are a sad reminder that we'll never really be safe.
Do you feel safe in your neighborhood?
Image via Xurble/Flickr