Thursday, January 20, 2011

Yummy by G. Neri and Randy DuBurke

Yummy Sandifer was an eleven-year-old boy who accidentally shot and killed a girl in Chicago and was the subject of a manhunt that made international news in 1994. His true story is told in graphic novel format through the viewpoint of a fictional character, Roger. Roger's older brother, Gary, was a member of the same gang as Yummy, the Black Disciples.

Gangs took advantage of the laws that protected young kids from felony conviction and put "shortys" to work for them. Gary tells Roger, "Yummy's a good little shorty. He do what he's told. He wants to impress, so you give him assignments. 'Hey, homie, get me a car, a red sports car, by tonight. I'm taking my woman out.' Or 'Go pop that dude that's messing with our business.' See, he's like our little pit bull puppy dog. But when he gets big, that's when you gotta watch out!"

A woman in the criminal justice system is quoted: "Yummy averaged a felony a month for the last year and a half. 23 felonies in all by the time he was 11. Now you got over 1000 Black Disciples like him, all under 13, all with guns. In this country, 15 kids under the age of 19 die by guns every day."

Yet Yummy was also a boy who slept with his teddy bear and whose body was scarred where his mother had whipped him. His father was in prison for drugs and his mother had been arrested 41 times. Was Yummy a bully or a victim? His case galvanized the public on the issues surrounding youth gang violence, which is the good thing that came out of Yummy's tragic life.

G. Neri is also the author of Chess Rumble, another book about an inner-city eleven-year-old. See more of artist Randy DuBurke's work on his website.

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