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This American Life: Harper High School, Part One

When we started reporting here in the school, we expected to find SOME football players that had been touched by gun violence. We really did not anticipate answers like this next one that Linda got:

"Who do you know in football that’s been either shot, or shot at?"

"Probably the whole team, except the freshmen and sophomores."

"I think everybody was shot at, since my four years of being there. Everybody on the team."

That’s #11, junior Rodney Jackson, and #4, Antorio Barton. A player named Sandelya Wright was shot at one day, and then played a game the next day. Harper’s quarterback, Kwame Ware, was actually hit a few years back, shot in the leg. One of this year’s recruits had a bullet go in the front of his leg and go out the back. He’s slower now, he says, but he can still cut.

About half the kids on the team are affiliated with one gang; there are five or six other gangs represented on the team, some of them opposition. But football seems to be the one place at Harper where everybody truly puts those rivalries aside.

this week’s episode of TAL is the first in a two-part series focusing on Harper High School in Chicago, where every student is a member of gang whether they like it or not, and where 29 students were shot in one year.

to be honest, i would probably listen to Ira Glass read the phonebook, but if you haven’t listened to this episode, you really, really should.

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