The Complicated Story That is Chiraq

The Complicated Story That is Chiraq

First and foremost what is going on in the hood in Chicago is a story that needs to be told. It’s not just a news story or a police blotter or homicide report. There are many factors, many reasons and a lot of people who are caught up in this as well as who is to blame.

If you look at the real estate market on the south side in certain spots it resembles Gary, Indiana or Detroit, Michigan. There are abandoned houses in my native West Pullman (pictured), that are for sale for $ 9,000.

My 10 year old used SUV sold for more than that.

I read pages of real estate listings on Wednesday afternoon and saw house after house looking like something out of a third world country selling for less than someone makes yearly earning minimum wage. It saddened me, just like all the instances of violence does.

Yes I left my old neighborhood years ago but I keep up with it and its decline is a story as sad and depressing as any melancholy movie. When I was a kid there were no less than four factories in walking distance with good paying jobs, nice stores and a safe environment.

A lot went into all that being gone, pollution from the factories, outsourcing, better neighborhoods and schools in the suburbs, closing of the large public housing projects that in fluxed our neighborhood. I could go on and on.

The truth is we have a modern day story of a “Tale of Two Cities”, except it’s all under within the Chicago city limits.

I’ll be honest, I have issues with an outsider from New York telling “our story”, we don’t need anyone else “pimping” us or any other media seeking ministers proclaiming what we know is true without offering a solution.

The decline in a lot of neighborhoods has been a slow slide that has been decades in the making with now “chickens coming home to roost”. The issues on the blighted sides of town blatantly show how you can’t focus on some sides of town and push their problems elsewhere and not fund them correctly unlike other parts of town.

TIFs aren’t enough, charter schools aren’t the answer, more police strategy isn’t it either. This is about people being responsible, from politicians to pastors to parents.

And don’t get me started on the Chicago Public School system.

I first heard the term “Chiraq” from my relatives in Minneapolis and their referral to our city as a war zone. I don’t take pride in that term Chiraq and frankly don’t like it.

But you watch the news and it’s unavoidable what’s going on in the streets and these issues have crept into the more protected and nicer areas at times.

I admit I’m tired of hearing about the violence, frustrated with the lack of response and fear the warm weather because we know the violence will only escalate.

No matter where I go in the world, I’m still a south side kid and can’t ignore what I left behind (and yeah I feel some guilt about that), but this more than just trendy urban term and a short lived movie production project.

This is about our city, our people and will those in charge actually do something about it or just pose for more pictures and proclaim about projects that look good in the paper.

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Filed under: Chicago

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