I love when I can start off a column with good news, and this is one of those times.
Last Sunday, for the first time in weeks, I had to go south on Laramie Avenue to get to the K-Town Xpress (aka, Eisenhower). As many of you are aware, I’ve been on a mission to get that “left turn on arrow only sign” taken down, primarily because the majority of traffic affected by that sign is the one headed south and needing to make that turn. But I am of those who would has to traverse the K-Town Xpress early in the morning and have been caught having to wait at that light, a wait that I often felt would be my end as it was the perfect spot to pull off a carjacking, robbery or murder. No other traffic would be near there in the wee hours of the morning and because it was so brightly lit, anyone could see in the vehicles to pick and choose their victims.
So, why is this a “happy” column? Because the left turn arrow signal and sign have been covered, meaning that unlike before, people can make their turns on green and not be a sitting duck and/or target. And yeah, I feel like my letters and columns have made a difference. I had even started an internet petition because I was so aggravated by the situation. I was making plans to stand down there and protest that signal and I knew I would have many supporters with me, but it is now no longer necessary. And that is how life should be. When we as citizens see errors in the way our society is being run, we should be able to let those in authority know. And we shouldn’t have to go ballistic before changes are made to make us happy. So kudos to all those who paid attention and corrected the errors of traffic management ways.
The next issue that people had better become very aware of is the one I wrote about a couple of weeks back. I had been traveling in West Garfield Park and saw building after building with red X’s on them indicating that the city would be tearing them down. Those same X’s are now beginning to populate buildings all over Austin. And our concerns need to be loud and vocal. Because every time a building is torn down, it means that housing for people is becoming less and less. Back in the 1970s, the city had its 2010 plan and the image didn’t include the public housing projects. Forty years later, that image of Chicago has come to fruition. Now the city is on its 2050 plans and how many of us know what those plans are as it applies to the West Side?
Land is one of the few things that cannot be created. And when the land grab occurs in the last black neighborhood at the edge of the city limits, then you know that once pushed out of Austin we are pushed out of the city never to return again.
In my new job I see firsthand what Chicago is becoming. Two institutions are some of the largest land grabbers of them all. All over Chicago, the universities are flexing their might and power and grabbing up land to perpetuate themselves. The University of Chicago, UIC, DePaul, Loyola and even Northeastern University are flexing and spreading out beyond what was traditionally their limits. Those schools are followed by hospitals that are land grabbing, too. And as those institutions, which are primarily outside of the black community, displace folks, is anyone shocked that pushing black people out is the solution to the land shortage?
Chicago is changing and is doing so right before our eyes. Many of us are blind to what is happening. The wrecking ball is moving steadily and quietly, and if we don’t take a stand, there won’t be any of us left to stand.