To more effectively address Chicago’s violence and gangs, the University of Illinois at Chicago recently released a report urging policymakers to place greater focus on addressing economic disinvestment and historic segregation. A former criminology professor and UIC fellow says that framing “Chicago’s violence as a gang problem is the ‘wrong diagnosis.”
The report states that unremitting concentrated poverty in the same neighborhoods and lack of economic opportunity are the primary, but most commonly ignored, factors that turn young people to gangs. It recommends a discontinued laser focus on drugs and violence, and to start paying disciplined attention to root causes that deny opportunity and economic resources primary in African-American communities.
The time is now to end our callous and dangerous tale of two cities.
Take, for example, the controversial $6 billion Lincoln Yards development on the North Side that is being fast-tracked in the City Council. Located in an economically booming community, this project is receiving $800 million in public subsidies, while my South Shore neighborhood has languished without a grocery store for years.
Honestly, how do our policymakers justify these shameful inequities?
Chicagoans recently joined hands in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., who said: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
I call on ordinary people in our city who care about equity and justice to find your voices, take a stand and be agents of change. I call on all mayoral candidates to commit to policies that end Chicago’s stain of segregation and economic inequity by charting a path forward for a truly safer and economically thriving city that works for all of its residents.