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Racial Matters

A Chicago Neighborhood Wants Just the Basics of Groceries and Dry Cleaning

Chicago keeps getting national news attention for all the wrong reasons. 


In early July, it was about seemingly endless gang violence. Earlier this week, it was about rampaging looters on Michigan Avenue (sometimes referred to as "the Magnificent Mile"), who had streamed into the Downtown area from the South Side. Police were injured, 100 looters were arrested, and Chicago River bridges were closed to shut off exit and entrance roads. 


The immediate provocation appears to have been a police shooting of a criminal suspect. But the mayor labeled the response entirely criminal activity.


Certainly, the dire straits of much of the South Side is a factor in such outbursts. The New York Times this week profiled one South Side neighborhood, Roseland, that typifies the grim outlook. As one community activist quoted in the article put it: ""Fifty thousand people live in Roseland, and we don't have one dry cleaners or one grocery store. Basic human needs are not being met here."


This is a community made famous by Barack Obama, who worked as a community activist there during the 1980s.


According to the New York Times article, "The desired policy prescriptions in Roseland are wide-ranging. They do not include defunding the police, as has been the focus for some progressives and their conservative critics. In this community, the desire is for basic investment and amenities: job opportunities, grocery stores, retail corporations and Black-owned local businesses that would feel connected to the neighborhood." 


Yes, "basic investment and amenities" would be a good start. Strengthening the schools would help a lot. Then, the community can look toward more serious investment, such as the launch of growth-oriented black-owned businesses. There's no question there are lots of potentially eager employees. 

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