Remember to enter Amazon via the VDARE.com link and we get a commission on any purchases you make—at no cost to you!
Race, Real Estate, And Immigration On Chicago's South Side
<!-- Start of Article --> Real estate is a preoccupation of most American adults in their private lives. Yet it is almost ignored in our public discourse… at least until it becomes unavoidable, as during the current subprime mortgage meltdown, which is endangering the entire economy. Real estate is famously all about "location, location, location", which generally means "neighbors, neighbors, neighbors". In our era of cheap electronic playthings, the worst aspect of being poor is not that you can't buy enough stuff—it's that you have to live next to other poor people. In urban America, "location" is in large part about race. Thus, our elites, when choosing where to live and where to send their children to school, exhibit the same race realism in their personal affairs that they persecute when a James Watson displays it in public. Fortunately, a book by sociologists William Julius Wilson and Richard P. Taub, There Goes the Neighborhood: Racial, Ethnic, and Class Tensions in Four Chicago Neighborhoods and Their Meaning for America, bridges the gaping Real Estate Chasm in American intellectual life by profiling in detail four unfashionable neighborhoods on the South Side of Chicago. It's based on field observations conducted by nine grad students from 1993 through 1995. (No explanation is given for why they waited so long before publishing their results.) Having lived in Chicago for 18 years, I find There Goes the Neighborhood rings true to me. But it tends to slide over the underlying explanations, which I'll try to supply from my family history at the end of this article. Although he moved from the University of Chicago to Harvard in 1996, William Julius Wilson is the prime representative today of the most famous tradition of academic sociology in America: the Chicago School. In fact, University of Chicago sociologists defined the 77 neighborhoods of Chicago back in the 1920s. Wilson, who is black, first became prominent with his 1978 book The Declining Significance of Race. It argued that class is becoming more important than race in the workplace. Amusingly, that book made Wilson the bête noire of Senator Barack Obama's spiritual advisor, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.. He told the young community organizer in the late 1980s: "These miseducated brothers, like that sociologist at the University of Chicago, talking about 'the declining significance of race.' Now, what country is he living in?" (P. 283 of Obama's autobiography Dreams From My Father). And, judging from Wilson's latest book, Obama's Rev. Dr. has a point, at least when it comes to housing. (Indeed, one of the side benefits of There Goes the Neighborhood is that it offers a perspective that the Main Stream Media has been reluctant to share with you about where the supposedly "postracial" Democratic Presidential contender from the South Side is actually coming from.) Wilson and Taub conclude: "Indeed, many citizens still cling to the notion that the residential desegregation of neighborhoods is achievable. The research conducted for this book, however, strongly suggests that neighborhoods in urban America, especially in large metropolitan areas like Chicago, are likely to remain divided, racially and culturally." In these four neighborhoods, each of which was virtually all white in 1960, race remains an obsession. Homeowners who get along OK with people of other races in the workplace do not want their colleagues moving onto their street. Wilson and Taub give pseudonyms to the four neighborhoods profiled in the book. According to Google, nobody has previously broken their code. It's easy to do, however, just by entering each district's reported population from the 2000 Census into a search engine. For the benefit of Chicagoans, I'll use the real names of the neighborhoods.
- First, the book's "Beltway" is actually the Clearing neighborhood on the far Southwestern border of Chicago, out beyond Midway Airport.
- Second, "Dover" is Brighton Park, a closer-in Southwestern neighborhood that was once the Bohemian capital of Chicago.
- Third, Wilson's "Archer Park" is actually South Lawndale, which is perhaps better known as Little Village.
- Fourth, "Groveland" is Avalon Park on the Southeast Side, a small, pleasant, all-black lower-middle class neighborhood.