BLACK CHICAGO: WHAT IS HAPPENING AND WHAT IT MEANS

Ken Berwitz


The finding, via Mary Wisniewski\’s article for Reuters, via yahoo.com:

Predominantly African-American neighborhoods in Chicago haveseen poverty rise and services diminish even as the nation\’s third largest cityhas become less racially segregated, according to a study released onWednesday.

WhileChicago has become more racially balanced over the decades with moreneighborhoods showing no majority populations, black areas are seeing economicstagnation or decline, according to the study by the Chicago Urban League,which promotes progress for blacks.

The reason, via common sense:

Greater racial balance means more areas of the city open to Blacks, thus more areas where decent, productive Black people who want decent lives for their families and themselves, are able to escape to, from the high crime/high drug/gang-run areas they would otherwise be trapped in.  

And since – despite what some people might think – most of the Black population is comprised of decent, productive people who want decent lives for their families and themselves – they escape….which leaves the neighborhoods they have escaped from with that many fewer such people.

Thinking of the areas themselves, I have a few questions:  Would you open a business in a high crime/high drug/gang-run area?  Would you travel into such an area to provide in-home services of some kind, whether medical, social or just to make a delivery or install carpeting?  Would you be comfortable commuting to and from an office in such an area?  Parking your car in such an area?  

Most people, Black or White, would avoid doing so like they would avoid the plague.  And that means these areas, which – let\’s again remember, are populated by decent people as well as criminals – have few of the services most people outside those areas take for granted.  

If, for example, you live in the northwest suburb of Park Ridge, where Hillary Clinton grew up, you can pick between supermarkets, doctors, dentists, take-out places, and department stores.  No one has any problem driving up to your house to do work inside.  Life is good.

But if you live in Englewood, on the South Side, try and find any of those services.  There, and in Humboldt Park, Garfield, and other such neighborhoods, life is not good.  It is almost impossible.

I remember, years ago, watching a news feature where New York cabbies were being accused of not going to or stopping for fares in, primarily Black areas.  It included minority cabbies openly talking about the dangers of doing so – which made perfect sense:  why would a Black or Asian cabbie have been in any less danger than a White cabbie?  

How many street thugs do you figure would say “I was going to rob you, but we\’re both Black so keep your money, I\’ll rob the next White guy I find”?  How about none.  As the cabbies knew full well, street crime is an equal opportunity employer.

And people who think just tossing more money at this problem, then wiping their hands back and forth, saying “there, I\’ve done something about it”, are living in a dream world – the same dream world people live in every time they pass more gun control laws and convince themselves they\’ve done something about street crime.

What will it take to improve Chicago – and so many other cities with exactly the same kinds of problems?

I\’m no urban expert and don\’t have any quick answers.  But, whatever answer is best, I know it will be something besides what is being done.  

It is time, long past time, to stop pretending that pretty speeches and more money for more government services is going to solve this problem.  It won\’t.

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