Thursday, December 07, 2006

'Whitening' response

Last week I ran this graphic "depicting" the gentrification of Chicago:

Click to enlarge.

Just this morning I realized there was a very serious response to it by George Schmidt. Here it is ...

Whitening requires de-blackening. During the 1960s, people used to say, "Urban renewal is Negro removal" (back when "Negro" was still used). Nowadays, the removal of poor and working class black people is "reform" (as in "school", "welfare" and "housing"). Check it out!

I've been spending a lot of time lately on the South Side (esp., "Bronzeville") documenting the decline in public housing and affordable housing for poor and working class people. This is also a documentatiion of the increase in expensive condo and townhouse development, lucrative to both politicians and politically connected developers, and the expansion of charter schools in Chicago.

Generally, "housing reform" and "welfare reform" have been used to push out poor black families. Then "school reform" is closing their public schools and replacing them with charter schools with admissions requirements. This part of reform requires that the public school buiding be fixed up at public expense, then given away to the private operators. This used to be called racism, but nowadays it's "reform."

Anyone who cares to look at it in the face should walk around the area of 39th and Lake Park (and Cottage Grove), where the Ida B. Wells housing projects (dating back to the New Deal) used to stand.

That area is now "the Arches of Oakwood Shores" (I couldn't make this stuff up) and some other hyped developments, with townhouses and condos starting at $200,000 per unit. The land was cleared ("housing reform") at public expense, then given away. Subsidizing the gentrification of that area, the Duncan administration at Chicago Public Schools (CPS) dutifully shuts down public schools (using whatever pretext comes to mind, from academic "failure" based on test scores -- they are now calling it "underperformance" -- to "underutilization") then gives the school building away to a charter school developer. Check out the Donoghue Elementary School at Lake Park and 38th St., across from "Oakwood Shores." Donoghue once served Ida B. Wells and Maddon Park Homes. Now it's the University of Chicago charter school (north).

This stuff is not limited to "Bronzeville." For three years, the Board of Education has kept Near North Career Magnet High School (at Ogden and Larabee, adjacent to what was once Cabrini Green) closed pending the liquidation sale so the land can be given away to politically connected developers. Trouble with this scam is, most of the other high schools on the north side are overcrowded (with increasing demand on Payton to open more seats, too, despite its limited size).

Out on the west side, Michael Scott, former privatization chief at both the Chicago Park District and Chicago Board of Education, is now a developer, looking to make his second million dollars quickly. Two weeks ago, the Board of Education gave away the Collins High School building (1313 S. Sacramento, in Douglas Park) to a charter high school ("North Lawndale College Prep") that Scott's been touting, and voted to open another charter a mile to the west, in the old Sears power house.

Don't count on reading any of this, let alone an analysis, in the Tribune or Sun-Times. Their editors think it's a great idea, and at both papers the reporters are told to write the "news" that fits.


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