Monday, June 27, 2005

A little black history...

I did a Google search on "black wall street" and this is what I've found...

In 1921, the Greenwood Avenue district of Tulsa, Oklahoma was an exemplar of what a motivated African American middle class could accomplish. Dubbed, "The Negro Wall Street," Greenwood Avenue was populated by successful African American families, businesses, hospitals and churches. All this would change on May 31. A young black man was accused of attempting to rape a white woman in a Tulsa elevator. Later, a rumor flew through the community that a lynch party was forming. Several young black men formed a defense party. At the courthouse they encountered a group of white men. Strong words (and some say bullets) were let loose. A pitched gun battle began right there on the spot. Soon, the white rioters forgot about their immediate targets and concentrated on looting and burning Greenwood Avenue. The mayor had to call in the National Guard from Oklahoma City to end the violence. In the aftermath, dozens of people, black and white, were dead. The exact body count is still unknown. Greenwood Avenue was completely gone; burned to the ground. Fortunately, many residents refused to be scared away by the riots, and rebuilt the neighborhood. The scars from the ordeal, however, haunt many African American residents of Tulsa to this day.

Black Wall Street

Sunday, June 26, 2005

"She has come a long way up from the ghetto."

In 1986 an article by Brenda Lane who worked for the Oakland Tribune wrote an article titled, "The Dilemma of The Black Middle Class".

There was a breif paragraph on our current Secretary of State and then Stanford University professor Condoleeza Rice. Her name was slaughtered in this article so that not on me. This was almost a 20 year mistake.

Codolezza Rice, a Stanford University professor who is an expert in Soviet arms policies, was interviewed for two hours by a white reporter. The next day she saw a copy of the story. The opening line read: "She has come a long way up from the ghetto." The only problem is that Rice was raised in a middle class suburb of Alabama, and has never lived in a ghetto.

It's interesting that I or Ms. Rice could live in a nicer community than some but I still live in the ghetto.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

News on a Saturday morning...

On the Rainbow/Push Saturday morning broadcast which airs around the country but in Chicago on Channel 36 Chicago Access Network at 10 AM for an hour an interesting thing occurred. I've never seen Jesse Jackson address important issues on this weekend forum. He may address education but I see him as an ideologue more than a proactive force for good. He may know his history but he's still an ideologue and no matter how you slice it, that's still dangerous.

I've praised in the past few months that he decided to take an interest in saving Terry Schiave. Why? Because this could affect black Americans at some point. One issue that was mentioned was three-fifths of a person. Well this morning I must praise him again.

He had some prominent black Chicago citizen take an AIDS/HIV test. This has become an importants issue in light of DL bruthas and some other assorted issues, however this is a good start that I wish many blacks in a position of leadership would be willing to take. Among those on stage he mention Roland Martin from the Chicago Defender and Willie Barrow (whose son died of AIDS) were on stage taking the test.

Of course before the hour was over Jesse was still taking a few shot at President Bush and blacks joining the "Confederacy" but what he's been doing for the past few months and this morning should be worth some good. Again I just wish other's in a position of leadership in the community can start showing some vision and leadership and do what's right.

Second item

20th ward Alderman Arenda Troutman is in the news again. Sometime last year she was in the news thanks to the improprieties of her "acquaintance" who was a gang member using some of her office equipment. Now she's in there with regards to the ongoing Hired Truck Scandal.

A trucking firm once owned by her ex-husband has made more than $1.1 million from the Hired Truck program. It dropped out of it last year. Ms. Troutman insists that she has done nothing wrong and never profited from it. When continued to be pressed she ended the press conference.

Check out this allegation quoted from the Sun-Times article...

Troutman's former ward superintendent, Sandra Williams-Bey, accused Troutman of helping set up the company and putting the firm in Vulcain's name to hide family ownership. Williams-Bey makes the accusation in a letter sent to federal prosecutors. Troutman calls Williams-Bey, who was fired from her job, a disgruntled employee.

Alderman: 'I've done nothing wrong' from Chicago Sun-Times 6/25/2005

Thursday, June 23, 2005

A new book I checked out of the library...

I was doing some research on the internet on Chicago neighborhoods at the Encyclopedia of Chicago, and I was reading an article on the far south side neighborhood of Calumet Heights. In this article they mentioned a book by a former resident Louis Rosen. The title is The South Side: The Racial Transformation of an American Neighborhood.

This the story of racial change and turnover. How a community fell apart in the face of unfounded fears and how the community actually looks after the racial turnover. Racial turnover occured all over Chicago's south side.

This area is bounded from about the Chicago Skyway running diagonally on the east, to Stony Island on the west, and then the Illinois Central Railroad on the south. The racial transformation that began west of Stony Island started to seep east of Stony Island. East of Stony Island was the Jewish community which fell apart by 1970-71.

No doubt a white person who have though that blacks were poor, dirty, theives, violent, etc. would be surprised at how the old neighborhood looks if they visited today. Most of the blacks that moved into this neighborhood were middle class. The message could have been this didn't have to happen the Jews and the blacks could have been neighbors but it wasn't meant to be.

Of course this community wasn't entirely Jewish. There were whites of other ethnicities there too but this story revolves around the originally indigenous Jewish community and the migrating blacks who were moving in. These groups seem to have a similar history which hopefully could translate into friendship. They've both experienced horrible treatment of some kind, but that came for naught during a brief period in the 60s and early 70s.

This neighborhood east of Stony Island is still middle class today and mostly black. Also this area contains a neighborhood known as Pill Hill so named because that was where health care professionals had once lived. It is also home to Cook County Board President John Stroger. The people who left this place years ago would see that it hasn't changed much. Their synagogue and community center is now property of the Chicago Public Schools, but the houses are taken care of and the lawns are well groomed. The black residents have taken care of what the original inhabitants have left them.

I highly recommend this book. :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Changing neighborhoods...

Well so far I've been on a trip with regards to Chicago neighborhoods and Mary Mitchell writes a column about how no matter how nice or desireable the neighborhood that there isn't much diversity. I wonder how and why. Well this is a good column regardless.

It's amazing the changes that are taking place in a lot of neighborhoods and hopefully for the better. She speaks of Maywood and how that western suburb is getting section 8 people (that is people who had to leave the city's housing project because their being torn down). She's thinking about going back to the old neighborhood, Oakland which is also on the lakefront futher north than Kenwood. It was once a neighborhood of housing projects, and now it is turning around being more diverse than ever.

I have one more item. This article discusses the white poor and the black poor. A few weeks ago we traveled on the northwest side of town, through Austin and Humbolt Park. We saw the concentration of blacks in a not very middle class neighborhood. My mother and I discussed why it seems poor blacks seem to be so concentrated. She thinks it's because no one wants to feel the pressure of upward mobility (that is the pressure of getting a much better job). That seems like a good explanation but an academic from DePaul about the white poor...

The simplest answer is there is no pocket of poor white people. Poor whites are far better integrated; however, there is a level of penetration that poor folks in general cannot make,"
So this in response to the question of where are all the poor whites or are there pockets of them. I can attest to that, in my uncle's old neighborhood there were some poor whites living on his block in an apartment building take these facts from that article...

The U.S. Census says the median household income for the poorest white neighborhood in the Chicago area -- meaning it is at least 55 percent white -- is $40,792. But the poorest black neighborhood is 97 percent black, and the median household income is only $14,205. That says to me that poor whites are in economically diverse environments, not ghettos.

Poor whites just like blacks can suffer the same issues as losing jobs, getting ill, even the issues of child support. Yet somehow black Americans are still marginalized. WHY? Well here's that same academic from DePaul...

"Blacks are highly concentrated to begin with, regardless of their socio-economic status," Kim said. "A number of studies have indicated that Chicago is still one of the most racially segregated cities in the country. What that means for blacks is if you are middle class or upper middle class, your likelihood of living in a black neighborhood is fairly high. For whites the pattern is slightly different. Even if you are poor, you have a little more options as to where you can live...."

"You will not see that many white folks down there. Despite the fact that these are very nice neighborhoods, there are very few whites willing to go into these neighborhoods," he said. "But it is not so much that blacks are segregated [by] whites. Blacks are segregated [by] everybody else.

"That includes Hispanics, immigrants in general and Asians,"

So there you have it. This is probably why a neighborhood such as South Shore, Chatham or anyothers aren't exactly attracting white residents. Could it be because they think they'll be moving into the ghetto? There are many questions, but there have been articles and maybe even studies as to where the black middle class lives and how they must maintain.

See for the most part the black middle class in Chicago lives near places where the black poor live. The black poor may come over from their part of town to cause trouble in a black middle class neighborhood. Black middle class families may also have relatives who are still poor and probably even went to jail. It is possible, and this should not be taken as a knock at all, but it's often true.

This reminds me of an important addage that anyone who aspire for upward mobility should demand. Never leave those who have not been blessed behind. Even then would the people who you seek to help be willing to take it an learn from it.

This has just spurred some ideas with regards to classism in black America and another neighborhood post on Chatham. There shall be something on those two subjects in the near future.

Neighborhoods change, but poor blacks stuck in ghettos from Chicago Sun-Times 6/21/2005

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Brief History of Father's Day...

I'm late and I hope everyone had a happy Father's Day. I hope everyone spent some time with their fathers (assuming he's still alive) and it's good quality time. My father is no longer with me but there are moments that I wish we could spend sometime together. When he passed away I didn't imagine what I'd miss out on.

In any case for those who are fathers or who want to be fathers some day (as I aspire to at some point), here is an article about how this tradition started it's a hell of a story. About a daughter who wanted to celebrate her father who became a single parent because his wife died while giving birth. This is only one part of this story I know but I wanted you guys to have an idea on what this meant to the person who started this.

Happy Father's Day! from the Illinois Leader 6/19/2005

Barack Obama on Father's Day...

Barack Obama was at Christ Universal Temple talking to the parishoners there. A recent story in the Tribune talked about how families tend to overvalue 8th grade graduations. Well he made comments to that effect. He also talked about men becoming fathers and role models and being more responsible to their children. He even talked about a breakfast his daughters prepared for him in his bed. That was nice.

I got this blurb from Eric Zorn's blog. I misread the title thinking it was taking a shot at Obama. The title read, OBAMA: TOO MUCH POMP, TOO LITTLE CIRCUMSTANCE. In any case read the article that Zorn bases his entry on.

Obama's church sermon to black dads: Grow up

Monday, June 20, 2005

Went to the show yesterday...

I went to the show for the first time since Kill Bill Vol. 1. I saw Batman Begins yesterday and I though it was a great film. It seemed like it was a movie that was taken off the pages of DC's Detective Comics. It was closer to the comic books than any other Batman movie ever made.

In fact this film was a little closer to real life than the others. There were great scenes of Gotham City. Some of these scenes were filmed in Chicago. The bridges were Chicago bridges along the Chicago River. This film seemed to have been taken right off the pages of comic books.

Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Liam Neeson, and Morgan Freeman all were great in there roles and Christian Bale made for a great hero. His lady was Katie Holmes, she plays Rachel a childhood friend and Gotham District Attorney. A worthwile effort and as of this moment as I type this the top movie in the country. I have hopes and I'm sure it is reality, that there will be a sequel.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

RJ Dale advertising

There is some controversy about this black owned and operated advertising business. There were handed a contract for general marketing in 2004 for the Illinois lottery. They already had a contract to handle marketing for black Americans. Unfortunatley they have to suffer for this decision. There are charges that the head of the lottery a black woman by the name of Carolyn Adams is incompetent.

Now the Illinois attorney general Lisa Madigan is looking into this contract. RJ Dale is already going through audits. In addition to that RJ Dale on TV this morning stated that there was no court order authorizing this. That is one needs a court order to perform an audit. These audits are coming out of the Illinois' Comptroller Dan Hynes. And the Sun-Times and Tribune have been going on the attack against him.Now some will make this issue a race thing. That RJ Dale has to know its place. Another angle is that their using RJ Dale as a tool against Blagojevich who is becoming increasingly unpopular.

Let me attack the race issue first. On TV this morning RJ Dale stated that usually a minority contractor gets the crubs or sub-contracts as apparently RJ Dale advertising has had all these years. And the big boys or the white ad agencies get the big contracts. So I suppose a black company getting a big contract is an "abomination".

I generally don't like every little issue to be made out into a race issue. RJ Dale didn't think this was personal, but I would wonder if the big boys just wanted to give RJ Dale hell. Perhaps not becuase it's a black owned company but because they may become an emerging player. It is possible, the entrenched players in a market may find a way to defeat a newcomer. Whatever the case who knows what is going on.

Here are some links to some articles and perhaps you can come to your own conclusions...

Lottery mess a long way from being cleared up from Chicago Sun-Times
State hires firm to investigate records of Black ad agency from Chicago Defender
RJ Dale executive speaks from Black Press
RJ Dale homepage

Friday, June 10, 2005

South lakefront neighborhoods

These are some other neighborhoods that interest me. Kenwood is north of Hyde Park and is basically a blighted area. This was where two older men were beaten by a mob of guys. The two men were in a van that ran into a porch killing several women. After this several men got involved in beating them and this killed them. There was a trial several of them went to jail or whatever other sentence that exists for them. In addition the two men who were beaten were about to move. This neighborhood is slowly changing for the better. During that crisis that occured almost two years ago with the beatings the news reports had this area seeing luxury cars in the area and probably their new neighbors. In addition to that this neighborhood has much in common with its southern neighbor Hyde Park especially in terms of housing architecture. Time will only tell how far Kenwood could go, perhaps if they rebuilt the old Kenwood L.

Hyde Park is home of the University of Chicago. This school played host to the experiments which lead to the development of the Atomic Bomb. This neighborhood is seen as cosmopolitan. There are all types of people living there. They live there or they live there so they can go to the University of Chicago. This neighborhood is famous for independent politics, used bookstores, architecture, and perhaps even its restaurants. It is for the most part integrated.

I would like to mention Woodlawn which is between Hyde Park and South Shore. It is a blighted area as well. It is surely but slowly being redeveloped but they do have a long way to go. The University of Chicago may be somewhat of a catalyst for redevelopment provided that they aren't opposed by the neighboring community south of the Midway Plaisance. In it's early days before "white flight" it was somewhat of a Jewish neighborhood and it was doing very well. In fact 63rd and Cottage Grove was a bit of a hub until the 1960s. The L as it can be in Englewood could also be a part of a renaissance how ever part of the old Jackson Park L was demolished in 1996.

Finally a neighborhood that is truly on its way back, South Shore. It was also a victim of "white flight" but today it can be seen as a middle class black neighborhood. There is a decent housing stock there as well with wonderful apartment buildings and homes particularly the Jackson Park Highlands. It's greatest asset is the South Shore Cultural Center right on the lakefront though some would say it's the lakefront. It is also the home of a neighborhood bank which has helped in revitalizing the neighborhood Shore Bank. Before "white flight" this was primarly a German, Irish, Jewish neighborhood with a number of Jewish temples. It also has a rail line a Metra Electric line which goes through the neighborhood. Also in this mostly black neighborhood there is a Starbucks on 71st and Stony Island what this signifies only time can tell.

Finally Hyde Park, Kenwood, and South Shore also share another public park, Jackson Park. It was designed just in time for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in the area in which many of those events were held. Also it is home to the Museum of Science and Industry. This is a public park with a golf course and some nice ponds that could rival those in Lincoln Park on the north side of town.

Hopefully I can live in that part of town. We'll have to see.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Feds charge heroin ring operated inside water department

The Chicago Tribune has reported yesterday that there is a heroin ring in Chicago's water department. This is another hit against Mayor Richard M. Daley who right now is in trouble because of the emerging investigation of corruption in the municipal government. He's already taking heat for the Hired Truck Scandal. There are so far two credible contenders against him for mayor in 2007 2nd congressional district congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. and 4th congressional district congressman Luis Gutierrez. A lot can happen in two years so we'll have to see how this goes.

Now the mayor is the son of another Mayor who have seen his fair share of corruption. And somehow Mayor Richard J. Daley has survived until his death in 1976. They both have a decent record of building the city despite various improprieties mainly the problems involving city workers during political work on the city's time, racial issues, and even problems involving contracts with minority companies.

Again a lot can happen in less than two years, but the time is now for both Jackson and Gutierrez to make their move and not let there be any small time candidates to attempt to take city hall. They are the best Chicago has to offer right now. I may not agree with either of their positions however I'd be excited about the campaign to be and the hopes that we'll see a new face in Chicago's city hall. Daley has been in office since 1989, so it's basically beyond time. We'll have to see if he'll either lose, resign, get sent to jail, or decided not to run for election.

Time will tell.

Feds charge heroin ring operated inside water department

Janice Rogers Brown confirmed

This California judge has been confirmed by the Senate yesterday for the Federal appeals court. And I saw on Special Report with Brit Hume a little bit of the debate (?). The Democrats were filibustering her appointment apparently for her conservative views. The Congressional Black Caucus charged that she'll turn her back on Civil Rights.

If you look at the ideology of this fight, it is said that a liberal (Democrats) don't like a minority (black) conservative. They go against the grain of what they think a minority is. The last black conservative to have fought through confirmation was Clarence Thomas and they tried to get him on allegations of sexual harrasment.

The question I have about Judge Brown for the Congressional Black Caucus is, how is this appointment going to roll back the clock on civil rights. And is this merely a charge used against her rather conservative views?

On another note, a local channel in Chicago had an interview with an actor Harry Mannix. You may have seen him in such movies as Ray to name one. He touched upon Condoleeza Rice and he said something to the effect of "we need to help her get her mind right". Is this only because she is working in a Conservative Republican administration?

I'm sick of this ideological non-sense. One side genuinely believes their represents what's best for minorities and the other side could care less and would even "roll back the clock on Civil Rights". When someone makes these charges they need to look in a mirror.

Senate Confirms Rogers Brown to Fed Bench

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

8th Ward Democratic Organization

Last week I was on Cottage Grove Avenue and I took a picture across the street from the HQ of the 8th Ward Democratic Organization. This is as I've seen in some articles that I will link to at the end of this post an old school political organization. This isn't done in my ward and it seems that most other wards don't have an organization to speak of.

In one article they talked about campaining for the 2000 Democratic nominee Al Gore just before election day. In another article they were talking about the 8th Democratic Committeeman John Stroger. That's another story.

John Stroger is a Cook County Commissioner as well as the County Board President. He's been the 8th Ward Democratic Committeeman since 1968 (A committeeman is an elected position, he is on ballot during the presidential primary in Illinois. All 50 Chicago wards are represented by a GOP or a Democratic committeeman), on the Cook County board since 1970, and President of the Board since 1994. . Mr. Stroger is in his 70s recently suffered a health crisis last year and since his reelection is next year may retire next year opening the door for ambitious candidates.

So what would happen to his commissioner's seat, the county board presidency, and the 8th ward democratic organization? These are some interesting questions but there is at least one that I know of who is running for the county board presidency and he's GOP and Republicans don't do that well in the county. As for everything else that's another question.

Currently, the 8th Ward is represented on Chicago's city council by Stroger's son Todd. He was a state senator but was appointed the 8th Ward Alderman in 2001 following the death of the incumbent Alderman Lorraine Dixon. What move would he make should his father retire?

Also I should mention the surrounding communities. The 8th Ward has some affluent black communities in the city of Chicago. Stroger himself lives in the Pill Hill neighborhood which is a very affluent neighborhood full of fancy single family home. It also is home to part of the Chatham and Avalon Park neighborhoods. These are some solidly stable and middle class communities with primarily black residents.

Also John Stroger has taken heat for issues during his long career. First, in 1983 during the mayoral primary he endorsed the current Mayor Richard M. Daley for his party's nominee instead of the eventual winner Congressman Harold Washington. I have no doubt he took heat for that but he was seen as a loyal party man. In Chicago race or ethnicity unfortunately defines your politics.

And secondly is the political patronage. There has been a battle on the county board regarding the pork in the county and some of this I'm sure is regarding the personnel. If you live in the 8th ward or in his commissioner's district or you're close to Stroger there is a strong possibility that you may just get a job in the county. It has been found that there are plenty of county employees living in the 8th ward. Of course patronage is a county wide problem in that there have been calls to abolish certain county offices such as the County Recorder.

Regardless this is a powerful organization with a means of getting out the vote. There really isn't a GOP equivalent here, but that's not uncommon in most of the black areas. And it certainly helps a political organization if your leader just so happens to be a powerful elected official.

John Stroger bio from The History Makers
8th Ward from the Medill News Service 11/02/2000
Quigley sees opportunity in Stroger-Sheahan fued by Russ Stewart 11/12/2003

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

An old Chicago controversy

I did a google search on Chicago's City Council and I found this article about a vote on the recital of the Pledge of Allegiance back in 2000. The controversy wasn't over the usage of the word under God. The controversy was over America's racial history. There was some opposition from several black aldermen. The opponents cited these reasons...

Opponents said the nation's history of racial discrimination made the pledge ring hollow, particularly the phrase, "liberty and justice for all."

This proposal is to start every council meeting with the pledge.

Chicago City Council passes proposal to recite Pledge of Allegiance