This post is going to be a bit of a rant, so I’m warning you now! 🙂
Yesterday I had a group project for my Spanish class. We did our presentation on the Chicago Public School system’s proposal to close 54 schools and 7 programs and then on the actual vote where they decided to close 48 elementary schools and 1 high school program. These schools are located in low-income, violence plagued areas.
There is one girl in our class who is just a bit cocky, a bit of a know-it-all, but she’s not mean. She just thinks she knows the majority of things in the world and gets on people’s nerves, but since she isn’t a cruel person, no one dislikes her. For example, there is one professor that everyone rates with all 5’s on the end of the term evaluation, even students he has failed rate him that high because he is so enthusiastic, funny and just an over all great teacher. She gives him 3s.
You just have to know the type of person she is to get why this story irks me so much. After we presented, we were asked our opinions on the topic so my friend Melissa and I, who have very strong opinions on the Mayor of Chicago and these neighborhoods because we actually go there and see these places, answered first. We both were talking about the corruption in the government, then flaws with the budget because you can never reallocate money because you won’t get it back next year since we have a punitive system and the fact that these areas are discriminated against.
So this other girl says it is also about how the schools are doing, which we mentioned several times in the presentation, and how it’s better if they close because then the kids can get better education elsewhere and if the entire neighborhood is bad, then it won’t make a difference how far they walk. THEN she justified all of this by stating she worked in Cicero. All I can say is -_________-
For those of you who don’t know, first of all the Chicago Public School system is literally a joke. It is so hard to give any of these low-income schools funding and the education provided really gives these kids little to work with in the first place and Cicero is in Cook County so they fall under the same school system. Cicero is also a lower-income area however it is not in the actually city, just in Cook County and there is a higher crime rate and gang problems there.
However, I would rather stand in the streets of Cicero in the middle of the night with a sign that says “shoot me” then go to some of these city neighborhoods at 5pm. The crime is so much worse. When I drive to Humboldt Park, I have to go through the residential part of the neighborhood of East Garfield and I don’t stop my car. I blow stop signs because the men on the corners who are dealing drugs are terrifying and I’m not stopping near them (as a quick note, not everyone walking around these neighborhoods are drug dealers or gang member obviously, but you can tell a lot of the time by colors and how they act when a car pulls up). Humboldt Park makes Cicero look like Naperville (for those who don’t know, Naperville is a high income suburb of Chicago. It’s just beautiful, massive houses and a land of Audi’s, BMW’s, Mercedes and Country Clubs, lol. I do recommend the downtown if you ever are in the area though. The River Walk is beautiful).
Not only that, if these kids are going to a higher income school in the city, the will most likely be discriminated against and blamed if something goes wrong in the school. That happens were I live, in the suburbs and that is for another blog and it will happen in the city as well. You can even see it in movies such as the Freedom Writers (which I highly recommend).
She was not saying that to be mean and I understand that. She just does not understand the level of violence these children must withstand. They are literally fighting for their lives, the soldiers of Chicago. It is frustrating to me when people speak as if they know these places when they have never been there. It does matter the distance because that is 1 more block that these kids have to walk before being in a safer place which is their school. That is one more block where they could be shot, mugged or inducted into a gang. Also, each block as certain affiliations and if you have a family member in one gang but you are not involved and are forced to cross into the “rival’s” territory, you are a threat that is going to be targeted, or if you wear the wrong colors or are the wrong skin color. Then there are different rules for different genders.
I’ll tell the story again of my boyfriend who has no affiliations with any gang and only hung out with friends in some of these neighborhoods. He fell asleep against the window and that pushed his hat to one side and that side was the wrong side so a man on the street tried to kick the door of the car in and this was because his hat was slanted to one side.
Please think about what these kids go through. In the streets there are gambling dice and needles and pipes for drugs, there are bottles of alcohol and bullet casings. There are gang members and drugs dealers and dangers around every corner for these kids. so if you think about your city because these areas exist in them all, please really think about what these kids who never asked for this have to go through just to live every day before you think you understand it. Just take a minute to change your perspective.