I don’t remember when I first heard of the Chicago 2010 Plan. It probably was back in the late 1970s when the year 2010 seemed too distant in the future to ever be a reality. I do remember hearing Cliff Kelley on the radio years ago say that when he looked at the plans, the first thing he noticed was that Cabrini-Green wasn’t there. Although it’s taking a little longer than the year 2010 to complete the task, Cabrini is a memory replaced by expensive housing that will make sure that blacks never again are the main occupiers of the land.
The decision to rid Chicago of a notorious housing project was a fait accompli because there are always morons, idiots and fools who for a mere pittance will sell out people, so they can get their 20 pieces of silver. Cabrini’s demise was assured when public housing changed its criteria for those who could live there. Previously, many a single mother who found a job working for CTA or in the private sector could live there and raise children and only pay 25 percent of their income as rent. After the change, no longer were the working poor welcome. Public housing became a den for those who solely relied on public assistance to live, and thus it became a hellhole by design.
I was thinking about sellouts to the community when I saw that the Puerto Rican parade had undergone a major change. When I was in high school, I participated in that parade. It was the late 1960s and they literally needed every “body” they could get to march in the parade. Every year, the band director at Wells would argue that we weren’t truly a marching band. Then he would gather as many of us as he could and we would march.
While black folks had never really lamented not having a parade downtown, for Puerto Ricans, it was a source of pride that they were literally the only minority group to have a downtown parade. And for many of my Puerto Rican friends, it was the only time they ever went downtown. Far too many of them did all their shopping and living just in the neighborhood.
So to learn that the Puerto Rican parade had given up its downtown parade was mystifying. Where are all the Puerto Rican activists who fought to get and maintain the parade? I don’t know who sold out the Puerto Rican community, but it was a sellout. A downtown parade is the chance for the Puerto Rican parade to be in the limelight of Chicago at its finest. The image of skyscrapers in the background and tourists and people from all over coming to watch and see “Boriquen pride” was what many of us had fought for.
Now in all honesty, I had to wonder just who is going to travel to Division Street to see a parade that goes from Western to California? It’s hard to imagine television broadcast coverage for a four-block parade. Then again, an area that was once heavily filled with Puerto Ricans has been gentrified and that strip of Division Street is the last vestige of the Puerto Ricans who used to be the majority there. This now makes me wonder what plans were in the works in Chicago 2010 for the Puerto Rican community.
Chicago currently has a 2040 plan. It’s called Go To 2040. All Austinites need to ask where we are in those plans. And even more, let’s pay attention to see if any parades that used to be in the neighborhood now move downtown. Chicago always does things according to plans.