I’m tired of losing people I know as a result of gang violence. This time it was a close friend of mine, Cheaquis Jones, who was murdered while he was at a house party. Last year it was Alonzo Walsh, who was shot dead while getting into his car. It seems like every year I lose someone I know to the violence playing out on the streets. It’s become something I have grown used to over the years, but I know that it is not normal at all. It seems like with each instance the people who are dying are people I was closer to year after year.

Cheaquis Jones was an 18 year old kid who grew up in the Fruitridge area, a neighborhood known for its gangs. As a young person he struggled to find his way, just like many other kids kid who grow up in the hood. Even still, I will never understand how people were quick to label him a “troubled child”.

Many people don’t know about the problems and the stress a teen goes through while growing up in the hood. Having to choose between going to school or selling drugs, or taking the chance to aim for college rather than becoming a gangster like all of their peers. Making quick money is always the alternative to sitting in a class listening to a teacher who usually doesn’t care about the “black boy”.

Something both of these boys had in common although they were from completely different neighborhoods is that they were both African American and they both grew up in struggling areas of Sacramento. Both went to struggling elementary schools that didn’t offer proper motivation or programs for students to stay in school. Schools where the quick fix to silencing an outburst from a stressed student was send him home on suspension rather than digging deeper to find out the real issue.

Before we write this off as just another gang killing, try to stop and think about the real issue. This is a tough awakening, an issue that has been around for years, an issue that sadly has to be emphasized with the death of young adults, and that is that the education system failed to reach these students. I am not saying the responsibility of the death of these students should land on schools, but there is a real problem with the education system that is used in schools. Until a remedy is found, to guide the troubled young people growing up in our most disadvantaged neighborhoods towards prosperity, I’m afraid that it’s only a matter of time until another person who I once knew and called a classmate meets a violent and sudden death.