Race. Or Schools and Money.

The Tribune ran a really interesting article about how and why Chicago remains an incredibly racially segregated city.

Part of the theory, which I buy, is that “new” cities, like Charlotte and Austin are having an easier time of it. “Old” cities like Chicago have certain behaviors ingrained that are really difficult to “undo”.

My parents moved to the area in the mid-1970’s. My dad grew up in New York, my mother in Cincinnati. They didn’t really know Chicago. I asked my dad not long ago how he chose our north suburban town as a place to raise his children. He said that he looked in a book for the optimum of two factors: the quality of the schools against the tax rates.

Schools and money.

(Please note, however, that my house was also about a 20 minute drive from where he worked.)

My street was about 1/3 white Protestant, 1/3 white Jewish and 1/3 Asian. My elementary school had plenty of kids from different countries and religions. But there were only two African American families. And I can’t remember any Hispanic kids until high school.

I went to a seriously multi-cultural university. It was crammed down our throats, actually. A professor in my freshman that cleared it up for me: we may all be different colors, but were very similar in one way: our parents were white collar professionals with college degrees.

Schools and money.

Now. Would I consider living on the South Side of Chicago?

No. I wouldn’t.

From the article:

“One theory posits that whites associate black neighborhoods with high crime and poor-quality schools. A recent study conducted in the Chicago and Detroit areas by the University of Illinois at Chicago and University of Michigan found that whites consistently rate a neighborhood higher when its residents are white regardless of the physical quality of the neighborhood.”

It’s not the skin color of the neighbors. It is the fact that Chicago just hit the 500 mark in the number of murders. I associate that with gangs and guns on the South Side. I am not saying that is right, or rational, but that is how it works in my brain.

Another point made in that article is that we move where there are people we know. My grandfather lives in Lincoln Park. Why would I move all the way to the South Side when my grandfather lives in Lincoln Park? For some people it is finding a neighborhood with the right church – which I seem to remember reading tend to be rather segregated as well. In fact, I am pretty sure I once read that the workplace is the only place that is integrating well.

Schools and money. That is my theory.

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