Two weeks ago when the International Olympic Committee announced that Chicago was eliminated in the first round of voting, I’m sure my jumping up and down doing the happy dance must have registered on the Richter scale. Yes, I was one of those people who prayed that Brazil got the games and was elated when my prayers were answered.
And, although I do recognize what getting the games would have done for Chicago, if history is the guide by which we judge the future, the only opportunity I saw for the majority of the black community was for us to reap displacement and all of Chicago to get to pay for the inevitable costly overruns.
Brazil was on its third go around to try to impress the IOC and garner the games. And the IOC in turn did something that shocked only the Chicago 2016 committee. Even after the Chicago 2016 team showed up with their heavy hitting trio of Oprah, Barack and Michelle Obama, the IOC chose Rio over Chicago. The entire IOC took a look at what Chicago claimed to offer and in a stance almost as brazen as when Rep. Joe Wilson shouted, “You lie” during President Obama’s speech, the IOC basically did the same thing to Chicago by eliminating us during the first round of voting. The IOC, which has to answer to the entire world, also reintroduced something to the Chicago 2016 committee that many of them have obviously had forgotten since early childhood – and that is fairness.
Now, most of us learned to play fair when we were young children. By the time we were in kindergarten, whether it was under the guidance of an adult or even just amongst ourselves, we learned that in playing we always had to let everyone get their turn. And Rio understood that concept extremely well. When given the chance to make their final plea for the games, they played the “continent card” and used that line to argue that the games had never been held anywhere in South America. How do you argue against that fact when the first word in the Olympic committee name is international?
The murder of Derrion Albert also didn’t help to garner Chicago the votes needed to win the Olympic bid. Yes, Rio de Janeiro has crime and a murder rate that is hundreds of times worse than Chicago. But there also wasn’t a current Youtube.com video circulating the globe of any of Rio’s murders. Reading about crime statistics is a whole lot different than turning on your TV or computer and seeing it replayed constantly over and over again. And although the Roseland community wasn’t on the radar for any of the locations where the Olympics games would have been held on the South Side, the sight of angry and brutal young males bashing a 2 x 4 against another boy’s head is not the Olympic sport that anyone wanted to see.
Chicago has stagnated for the last three years as Mayor Daley put all of his eggs into the Olympic 2016 basket. Now that the Olympics won’t be here, what are his plans to deal with a budget shortfall of $520 million? Drive through the local business districts here on the West Side and wonder why the mayor always finds millions for businesses that move downtown, but our areas are left to fend for themselves. Those TIF dollars are for taxpayers and not a piggy bank that he can use to fund his whims while our part of town sees only taxes and not a dime in investments. Why are streets that flow from Austin east into the downtown areas full of potholes on our part of town but look like airplane runways as soon as they are out of the black community?
Renaissance 2010 is less than three months away and all we are seeing are failures of neighborhood schools while Chicago Public Schools experiment on our children and their education and we sit back and tolerate it. And although I don’t always agree with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., it was an absolute insult that he wasn’t allowed into the meeting that Daley held with the Obama representatives.
We may have lost the international Olympics for the summer of 2016, but we still have the opportunity to participate in our own version of the Olympics come February, 2011. That is election day when every Chicagoan can sled, ski, shovel, ice skate, slip, slide and even bike ride to the polls and cast our vote for the gold medal winner – a new mayor.