Is it 2009…or 1969?

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ralph Abernathy moved to a Chicago housing project in 1966, to better understand the racism, if any, in the North. What they discovered was a racism far worse than such found in the South…because of its subtlety. Mayor Daley did nothing to fight segregation in Chicago, as the city was just as racially divided as any in the deep South. And still, to an extent, the city remains the same. Certain areas inhabit a certain type of people, that make a certain type of income. The schools and homes are of a lesser quality on the South and West Side, in general. Crime also seems to run rampant in those areas, while more affluent, predominantly White areas, such as Lincoln Park, Wicker Park, and Lakeview don’t experience such problems. And in the rare case that one of those areas be stricken by a crime wave, it seems to make the news and garner special attention, while reports of crime on “the other sides of town” are presented as a common occurrence. Gangs play a huge part. As a young Black male, I understand that I’m simply not welcome in some areas. I wouldn’t dare hang out in Bridgeport. In the Marquette Park area, there is literally a black/brown war, as I’m pretty sure many of my Black male friends in Chicago can attest to. This is a city that has an identity of being the gang capital of the country. Unfamiliar Black male, on 79th and Pulaski…it’ll most likely be assumed by Hispanics in the area that you’re a member of a rival gang. It stretches from the gutters of gang warfare to the glitz and glamour of Michigan Avenue. It’s sad to see such a beautiful street with virtually no color on it. While many tourists and well-off Whites make up the vast majority of Michigan Ave. walkers and shoppers, it seems Blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities are behind an invisible barrier. The more rundown and of-lesser-quality shopping areas are heavily populated by minorities, and not just Blacks. The two demographics rarely ever meet, which is disappointing, considering it’s 2009. A good number of minorities that I’ve spoken to simply don’t feel we belong on the North Side, in Wrigley Field, or even in some of the schools outside of the South or West Side area. Being a Midwestern city, I suppose we have the same reputation as a Lincoln, Nebraska, Olathe, Kansas, or even Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Good, hard-working, blue-collar, open-minded people. It was thought during the Jim Crow Era that a Black person would be better off in the North. That a Black person would not face the same unnecessary obstacles, and have basic civil liberties. He/she would be treated with respect, and not have to worry about racial epithets, injustice, and hate crimes. What Dr. King found in Chicago was a large metropolitan city that used its geographical location to disguise its racial intolerance and tension. A city that professed “good Midwestern values” to not earn a reputation as being just another American city that would welcome Whites, and do what it could to turn away everyone else. Crime, education, dropout, household and incarceration statistics show the disparity between largely minority and White-populated areas in the city of Chicago. To make matters worse, with Chicago in the running for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, the beautification process is seemingly underway. And don’t get Ginger and I started on social gentrification and its effect on the minority citizens of not only Chicago, but other cities across the country as well. I love the city of Chicago. I think it’s the greatest city in the world. But, at times, I yearn for a TRUE change in this city. (A start would be a viable candidate running opposite Mayor Daley. Sorry, Dorothy Brown.) Sometimes, I’m not sure it will ever come… P.S. I miss Karen! P.P.S. #shoutout to my la tigra, everyone that works everyday to make this city AND country a better place, and last but not least…The L.O.V.E.


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