I grew up in a place where big things showed up on the news. If your neighbors made a 15-foot snowman in their front yard, it was on the news. If there was a bomb threat at your high school, it was on the news. If something happened that other people should know about, good or bad, rest assured, you would know about it.
Tragedy struck this neighborhood this week -- twice -- and I bet you haven't heard about it. At least not on the news. Earlier in the week, a woman was found dead in an alleyway. She was the sister of one of my co-workers, and at first, it was not known whether or not it was a heart attack, H1N1, accident, homicide, suicide... But this was not reported on the news.
Yesterday, a woman jumped off of a 7-story parking ramp onto the sidewalk a block away from our building. Today, I have heard many different theories as to who she was... but that is all I have heard. Theories. Guesses. No names. Because this was not reported on the news.
We know that the latter of these two women was someone we probably know, or knew. We know that we probably had seen her earlier this week. We know that she has a family, that she has friends, that she lives a life that others remember. But not all of them will know. They will be left, like us, to wonder who it was; she will be left without homage, and without being grieved over--at least in this neighborhood, at least for now.
We all speculated today: What if she had jumped off of Rockford High School? Off of Forest Hills Foods? What if she was white? What if she had a name others recognized? Then, would this have been news-worthy? Would it have been worth reporting to others? Would her life have been valuable enough to merit at it's end?
Many people who live in the Heartside area watch the news every morning--more often than I do. It is always on in our dining room, on more than one screen, every day. When tragedy is not acknowleged in this neighborhood, it sends a message that many already feel: that the rest of the city, and the rest of the world, do not care what happens down here, doesn't care if they are mugged or robbed or if they create something beautiful or destroy it. Their lives are invisible, even when they end.
But this is not news to them. I think they've believed it for a while.