Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Yesterday I wrote a post...

...about Ferguson that I began first thing in the morning and reworked off-and-on all day until I finally hit "publish" in the late afternoon. I still wasn't entirely happy with it, but sometimes you just have to be content with getting something out there.

(My son took the unusual step last night of texting me to say how much he liked the post -- something he almost never does. So it mustn't have missed the mark by too much.)

I think the best thing I read about Ferguson yesterday was from Andrew Sullivan's blog (my emphasis):

I haven’t come across any new, dispositive facts to change my mind about the complicated specifics in the Michael Brown tragedy. But there is one dispositive fact that is hard to miss and that keeps impressing itself upon me every time I read about Ferguson and its meaning. There is a near-universal consensus among African-American men that there is a crisis about their role in American society, and particularly about their interaction with the police. You can cavil, or criticize or feign shock or refer back to the specifics of the Ferguson case. But it’s there and it’s real and any crisis between any segment of the population with respect to law enforcement is a crisis for the entire society.

I also read this excellent interview with Chris Rock by Frank Rich of New York Magazine, which is a must-read. Money quote:

My mother tells stories of growing up in Andrews, South Carolina, and the black people had to go to the vet to get their teeth pulled out. And you still had to go to the back door, because if the white people knew the vet had used his instruments on black people, they wouldn’t take their pets to the vet. This is not some person I read about. This is my mother.

And that reminded me of The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson, another must-read which I am forever recommending. (I've mentioned it many times in this blog -- it changed the way I look at black people. While reading it, I initially thought: Every black person in America should read this. A little further on, I thought: Every American should read this.)

Finally, last night I went to a meeting at a fieldhouse in a local park called by officials from the CHA. (That stands for Chicago Housing Authority, for you out-of-towners.) They are studying what to do with some 80-plus acres (did I hear that right?) in the University Village/ Little Italy neighborhood that they have been tasked with redeveloping. (The project began several years ago but was put on hold by the recession.) The consultants last night were getting input from the local residents and intend to complete their study by next September.

The crowd there had to be at least half African-American and many appeared to be low-income. They were quite vocal about what they wanted and needed from the CHA. I also learned a new acronym, ABLA. According to the park's website:

Built between 1938 and 1961, the area's four large housing complexes, known jointly as ABLA, include: the Jane Addams Houses, Robert H. Brooks Homes and Extension, Loomis Courts, and Grace Abbott Homes.

This was the first of three planned meetings, the next one scheduled for February. It's a diverse group with different interests and priorities. I didn't get a great "feel" for what the heck was going on, but I hope to absorb more over time. I'll keep you posted.

Oh, and I almost forgot: before I went to the meeting I watched Jon Stewart's show from Monday night. The clip above is excellent; jump to about 6:40 if you're pressed for time -- but it's a must-see.

The day definitely had a theme.

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