News & Politics » Letters

Integrated Neighborhoods

by

comment

To the editors:

Harold Henderson did his usual excellent job on "Apartheid American-Style" [May 7]. The problem is there, and Chicago is an extreme example. But, the place to look for solutions is in the exception to the problem.

A friend searched the census data for "diverse" community areas, any of which has less than half the population in its largest ethnic group. He found six community areas, out of Chicago's 77, and three "near misses," areas with 50-52 percent of their population in the largest ethnic group. Of these nine, however, four are less "diverse" than "divided"; they straddle a boundary between two segregated sections. Another is genuinely diverse, but its diversity doesn't extend to African Americans.

The remaining communities are Hyde Park and three communities in a strip on the north side: Uptown, Edgewater, and Rogers Park. We can learn lessons from each section.

The far north side teaches two lessons. The first is that diversity helps. The conflicts between Black and White seem less severe when they are surrounded by people from all over Asia and Latin America. The second is that the "Leadership Section 8s" made a real difference. The poor Afro-Americans who moved in with those certificates were followed by Afro-Americans of all economic levels.

Hyde Park remained integrated when the rest of the south side shifted from pure White to pure Black, for several reasons. The reproducible one was that the U. of C. put its clout and its money into maintaining a high level of public services. If any level of government--city, county, state, or federal--is ever really interested in encouraging integration, they will show it by putting extra money into the infrastructure in the few integrated areas that they have.

Today, with two years of delay in building the school to relieve overcrowding in the truly integrated schools of the north side strip, with repair of the Lawrence el stop on indefinite hold, that millennium seems far distant.

Michael Radzilowsky

Edgewater

Add a comment