By Arlene Jones
The infamous shutdown of the Dan Ryan Expressway took place this past weekend. I have no clue what all the final outcomes will be. Well ... actually I do know about one. For starters it seems that the mayor of the city of Chicago is already taking credit as the architect for the shutdown of the expressway.
Say what? The last time I looked, he is the head honcho in charge. He has the potential to allocate money and resources to some of the stricken neighborhoods on the West and South side neighborhoods. But rather than do that, he's busy taking credit for a march that closed down an expressway.
Now juxtapose that claim with reality: This past Saturday night I went to visit a friend. She lives off Division and Pulaski. As I walked to her house, I passed a car filled with young people. They were smoking reefer, and the horrible smell of that manipulated product now known as "Loud" was heavily polluting the night's air. Marijuana has been reformulated so that it is stronger than ever. It no longer has the sweet smell that was predominant in my youth.
Forty-five minutes later, as I prepared to leave, I again got to pass that group of young people. They had moved from inside the car to standing around the car. The girls were all dressed up with no place to go — literally! Because if you think about it, where are the nightclubs for the black West Side? Where are the entertainment locations where our young people can go that offers structured settings? I couldn't think of any and therein lies part of the problem.
Over the last eight years, this city's political structure has systematically closed down nightlife for black Chicago. Our young people have been sent to the streets for entertainment. That is exactly where they were and what they were doing. So for the mayor to take credit for a march lamenting violence while at the same time being the architect of a lack of opportunities, lack of jobs, and lack of development leading to that violence is disingenuous.
Humboldt Park and Wicker Park have been gentrified. Part of that gentrification is a plethora of business and entertainment facilities. Go to the corner of Kedzie and Armitage, and there is nightlife going on. Go to the corner of Division and Pulaski, which is less than two miles away, and there isn't anything.
There's a saying that all politics is local. We have an election in about four months where the billionaire Democratic candidate for governor is going against the billionaire Republican incumbent. One isn't expecting many votes from the black community, so the emphasis and seeking of our vote will be minimal. The other is dependent on automatically getting our vote, while offering nothing in return. The governor's election will also be followed by a mayoral one, an election where the current mayor wants us to forget that, prior to his re-election last time, he helped cover up that a 16-year-old child was shot 16 times by a trigger-happy cop for the crime of walking away.
Pay attention, black Chicago! There is always a reason for everything that happens.
Monitor to see who gets the money, and who gets the shaft!
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