Coming to an end is 2010, and I’m just glad I “made it.” I’m still living and breathing. The struggle to hold on this past year has been immeasurable. But I did it by putting my pride to the side and taking on jobs that helped me keep my head above water. So I am grateful for what I have and optimistic about what will come in 2011.
As always, it is time for me to review my year of columns. No issue was of greater importance than the loss of my colleague Delores McCain. The stilling of her voice has had a major impact on this paper. Delores and I traveled in many of the same circles, and it is still strange to go places and not see her there. I do enjoy seeing the previously published Streetbeat columns. But with so many pressing issues out here for people to voice their opinions on, it leaves a huge void as to what people are currently thinking.
Politics as usual played a major role in many of my writings. From the race to become the new president of the Cook County Board to the governor’s race, we saw the fall of Stroger while Quinn was able to hold onto his seat by the slimmest of margins. We even had Tavis Smiley show up with his symposium on the “Black Agenda.” Yet months later, nothing has truly come of it as it was just another opportunity for people to posture without purpose.
One of the continuous themes of my columns was what is good about living on this side of town. Over the course of the year, I wrote about Douglas High School. The children there want a future and a good education and are seeking it in spite of it not being a proper high school. I got to meet DeAndre Robinson, a young man whose future is bright and who has already declared he will one day be mayor of this city. DeAndre represents the young people of Chicago who, rather than bemoan what they don’t have, takes a look at what is available and sees how to make it work. That kind of ingenuity has always been at the forefront of the black experience in this country.
Two other hidden gems are hospitals. Loretto Hospital specializes in the treatment of addiction while Hartgrove Hospital does the same for mental illness. Both diseases are plagues that we don’t often speak about within the black community. Thankfully, we have a place and specialists to help heal those problems.
We had several of what I call “stunt” events. State Rep. LaShawn Ford’s call to bring out the National Guard garnered headlines, led him to host a huge meeting, but the issue fizzled after that. The shootings and mayhem continue. A study published by some “deep thinkers” claimed that the West Side Wal-Mart caused businesses as far away as Roosevelt and Western to Harlem and Irving to shut down. To believe that people would drive past the HIP shopping plaza to come to Wal-Mart on our side of town is farfetched to say the least. Plus, they could easily zip further north to go to the one in Niles.
Is there anyone who believes that Supt. Weis’ decision to call in “gang leaders” and threaten to arrest them for the crimes of their members was anything more than a stunt? Months later, the killings are still occurring, and I’m not seeing headlines about those so-called leaders going to jail. If our society doesn’t hold parents responsible for their children’s actions, how are we going to hold their so-called gang leaders’ feet to the fire?
I spent over a month letting everyone know about how Bethel New Life fired local workers who were doing a good job in exchange for hiring new workers. Then there was the flood that brought as much as 6 feet of water into some people’s basements. Many of us are still recovering from that event. One local homeowner had a minor fire, then watched her entire house flattened by the authorities, which should make all of us leery because if it happened to her, it can happen to the rest of us.
The final quarter of the year has brought the news that will dominate the first quarter of 2011. That was the decision by Daley not to seek re-election. That brought candidates, whom we haven’t seen or heard from in ages, out the woodwork, all wanting to be the next mayor of Chicago. The new year will have all of them going full force and I can’t wait for it.