Op-Ed: Chicago Intentionally Forces Out Black Residents

Illinois gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy made waves when he said the rapidly shrinking population of African Americans was the intended result of the city's policy. An op-ed in the Chicago Reader agrees.
January 22, 2018, 1pm PST | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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When Chris Kennedy said Chicago was purposely pushing blacks residents out of the city by prioritizing development around richer whiter areas, Mayor Rahm Emanuel quickly disputed the claim. Citing an op-ed in right-leaning Chicago Tribune, Emanuel called this pressure on Chicago's black population illusory. Ben Jovarsky of The Chicago Reader disagrees. "Whether the mayor admits it or not, the point of his planning policy is to generate gentrification—that is, to move poor people out and wealthier ones in," Jovarsky writes.

From not rebuilding promised affordable housing after tearing down the Cabrini Green, to closing a rash of schools, Jovasky cites a slew of moves to pull city resources out of poor neighborhoods in favor of richer ones. "Think about it—the city closed four schools as the black people left. Once white people moved in, the mayor proposed opening a new school." Jovarsky writes about the proposed Barack Obama College Prep High School.

Jovarsky concedes that these policies aren't unique to Emanuel; many started during the Daley administration. But Chicago's shrinking black population was not caused by a series of harmless coincidences. "It's great that some areas of the city are thriving. But let's not pretend that good times on the north side aren't coming at some other community's expense," Jovarsky argues.

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Published on Wednesday, January 17, 2018 in The Chicago Reader
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