This is part of an occasional series titled, "Chiraq"

By John W. Fountain
        How to raise a killer: First, fathers, abandon your sons. Never cradle or nurture them. Wholesale kick them to the curb soon after life begins. The sooner, the better.
Never spend time with them, never show them—teach them—what it means to be a man.
Make excuses for your absence: My baby’s mother “be trippin’…”
Never show your son any love. Leave him feeling worthless, forsaken by the man who was supposed to love him first, unconditionally.

Black lives matter?

Why won’t we stop killing each other?

"John W. Fountain"

By John W. Fountain
Black lives matter?
What about young black men slain by young black men? Or is it only black males slain by white men?
When will local and national protests begin for the senseless killing of Demario Bailey, 15, shot dead a week ago Saturday by would-be robbers? His four alleged killers look just like him: young, male and black.
Surely they must have seen news of protests in response to grand jury decisions to not indict white police officers for killing Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in New York. Surely, they must have caught wind of protestors’ chants:
“Black lives matter!”
“I can’t breathe.”
Surely they must have noticed Demario’s chocolate skin and brown eyes. Realized that he was unmistakably their “brother.”

THE SWEET SEASON - CLICK on Photo Below for More

"John W. Fountain"

Where Was the Church on Bloody Sunday?

By John W. Fountain

This is the second in an occasional series titled Chiraq.

    On “Bloody Sunday” in Chiraq, where was “the church”? What were her prayers? Her hopes for those who dwell amid the gunfire and bloodshed here that has turned some neighborhoods into war zones?

Did she cower in the shadows of the crosses that hang in the sanctuary, behind the safe confines of the walls, out of harm’s way? Did the church spill into the streets by the thousands armed with the Gospel message of hope and peace?

Or did she sit silent, complacent and complicit amid the mounting carnage of this human rights atrocity occurring right underneath the church’s nose, near its front doorsteps?

I'm So Chicago...

By John W. Fountain
July 21, 2014

I'm so Chicago. ...I remember a time when we were a community... a time before crack cocaine, before drive-by shootings and children being struck by stray bullets inside their homes... A time when everyone went to church on Sunday morning and the smell of Sunday dinner wafted through the neighborhood. A time when churches were connected to our community and vital, and mega churches and prosperity doctrine were an obscenity to us all...
I'm so Chicago I remember tent revivals, the glow of light from the big top and the call to all to simply “come”... I remember when “Mr.” And “Mrs.” were every adult’s first name. ....and young people respected their elders, would never even say a curse word within earshot. I remember when we were more neighborly, less hateful and jealous of one another and understood the value of education. A time when teachers carried themselves like they were ambassadors of precious hope and promise. A time when parent-teacher conferences were crowded and earning bad grades was a disgrace.
I'm so Chicago I remember the time when it was shameful to have a child out of wedlock and some pregnant girls were sent Down South... a time before sagging when young men wore belts and we're taught to open doors and what it meant to be a real man... A time when twerking was unheard of, when modesty was the norm… A time before half-naked selfies, accentuated by duck lips and the kind of tastelessness once ascribed only to women of the night and that now is exhibited across generations—from babies to grandmothers.


ABOUT THE PROJECT: "The Transformers" is a collection of documentary snapshots that examine the work of members of the faith community across the nation. They are believers who are moving beyond the walls of the institutional church with a heart to impact community by prayer, faith and action. Among them is True Vine Ministries in Oakland California, whose pastor, the  Reverend Zachary Carey founded S.A.V.E.--Soldiers Against Violence Everywhere. 

Ranging from mobile soup kitchens to a Washington, D.C.-based ministry that seeks to help young women ensnared by the sex slave trade to other innovative hands-on approaches, they collectively represent a model for how others may put their faith and passion into action. Journalist, Professor and Chicago Sun-Times columnist John W. Fountain chronicles these efforts here and in a forthcoming project titled, "The Transformers."

It Takes A Father

By John W. Fountain
It takes a father. We must reclaim, revive, rebuild, and restore the village: One child, one father, one family at a time. For the village is broken, deeply broken.
Shattered, it lies in ruins—spiritually, morally, socially. Our communities breathe on life support. Children murder children. And a generation sits complicit and largely silent, our heads buried in sinking sand.
We routinely bury our young, slain in an increasingly vicious “village” filled with gunfire that rises as surely as the morning sun and the wail of grieving mothers. A village whose streets flow with too much blood, with too many tears. And yet, not with enough outrage, conviction, resolve.
Not with enough faithful, functioning, full-proof fathers.


By John W. Fountain
    It has been a cold, cold winter. But I’ve known colder. In January 1979, snow blanketed the prairie, piled up like icy, white mountains. I was a freshman at the University of Illinois in Champaign. The blizzard forced the cancellation of classes, ushered our world to a momentary standstill, eerily silent and frozen.
I remember trudging across campus through the frosted tundra. Then it grew colder: news that my father had been killed in a car accident. It hit like an unsuspecting storm.
Then came my trek from the snow-laden Midwest to Evergreen, Ala., to stand, finally, face to face above the casket of the man who had deserted us by the time I was 4. My collection of red-clay dirt by which to remember him. My tearless farewell to the father whose absence left me with a certain internal—perhaps eternal—coldness.


By John W. Fountain
"John W. Fountain"
      The “Roundtable” is dead. Dead like leaves fallen from brown, barren trees that now stand naked in the cold. Dead is the place for me that once represented a community of brothers who found camaraderie, solace and laughter over a cup of Joe at a south suburban coffee shop. Oh, it still rumbles with laughter, I suspect. But it is dead—to me. As dead as Lincoln Mall.
Some of the guys—mostly black, middle age to seniors, with a smattering of young'uns—still gather for chats about sports, politics and current events. I used to go there for the morning fare. But something’s been lost.
Perhaps it has to do with the removal of chairs and tables last summer from the café’s patio—something “management” said had to do with the new smoking policy in Illinois. Except there was no absence of patio furniture at most of the coffee house’s other area cafés.


By John W. Fountain
"John W. Fountain"
These are a few lessons on life written to my daughter. Some of them are rooted in the wisdom of my dearly departed grandmother. Some rinsed with humor. Some stem from my own experience—and even my mistakes—as a man. All are shared in hope and concern. And perhaps in them lie lessons for all daughters:
Dear daughter, don’t embrace the privilege of being my daughter but reject the responsibility of being my daughter. I love you no less when I am giving you words of wisdom and lessons that you find difficult than when I am giving you good gifts. You need both for your journey into—and throughout—womanhood.


By John W. Fountain
"John W. Fountain"  There are children here, though scarred and battered. Big dreams shattered. Big-city tattered. Ghetto fractured. And sometimes, all that matters here is getting home safe each day, under each new school-day sun. Escaping bloody pools that run, sometimes like rivers here, on the darkest side of fear—cascading waterfalls of salty tears beneath their veneer of adult masks that cause some to wonder, to ask, "Where are the children, here?"
Hollow eyes stare into space. Mournful cries yearn for grace. And yet, little brown boys with baby faces, and little brown girls with curls and lace frolic on some golden, sun-drenched days. Jump rope with joy and laughter ablaze. Rough-house in vacant lots—play all day—while some stand afar gazing and still see: No children here.
"John W. Fountain"But I see them. Brown, or black like me. Some scarred like me. Scared like me—once a ghetto child. Hardening—hearts half calcified—by life lived under the constant shadow of death, where chaos is the score that too often resounds between each breath. Here, where poverty hangs like a hornet's nest. Where hope unseen is still a treasure chest.


By John W. Fountain
     It was a strange number calling from some corner of “Occupy” New York: “Hey Unc!” a familiar voice rang.
     “Hey, man,” I said to my nephew.
     “Did you get the ticket?” he asked, his enunciation ever prim and proper.
     “Not yet,” I said regarding the train ticket he’d asked if I could purchase so he could get home to Chicago for Thanksgiving.
     Honestly, as a hard-working man, who believes everyman should earn his keep, I had some reluctance shelling out dough for a young man—even a beloved nephew—who was chillin’ in the Big Apple,


By John W. Fountain
  So here we go again: Marching to court to witness a cadre of mostly white, well-paid lawyers argue about the future of mostly black children because of a lawsuit brought by a stubborn, predominantly black school board that contends the district doesn’t have enough green to go around.
     Truth is, this case seems more about bruised egos, less about the good of the children—all at the taxpayers’ expense.
     It’s enough to make me throw up. Maybe I ought to carry a paper bag in my suit pocket to the Illinois Appellate Court hearing this morning, just in case I can’t make it to the restroom.
     It has been nearly two years since I first attended