In 1948, when the Supreme Court ruled that restrictive covenants, while permissible, were not enforceable by judicial action, Chicago had other weapons at the ready. The Illinois state legislature had already given Chicago’s city council the right to approve—and thus to veto—any public housing in the city’s wards. This came in handy in 1949, when a new federal housing act sent millions of tax dollars into Chicago and other cities around the country. Beginning in 1950, site selection for public housing proceeded entirely on the grounds of segregation. By the 1960s, the city had created with its vast housing projects what the historian Arnold R. Hirsch calls a “second ghetto,” one larger than the old Black Belt but just as impermeable. More than 98 percent of all the family public-housing units built in Chicago between 1950 and the mid‑1960s were built in all-black neighborhoods.
Governmental embrace of segregation was driven by the virulent racism of Chicago’s white citizens. White neighborhoods vulnerable to black encroachment formed block associations for the sole purpose of enforcing segregation. They lobbied fellow whites not to sell. They lobbied those blacks who did manage to buy to sell back. In 1949, a group of Englewood Catholics formed block associations intended to “keep up the neighborhood.” Translation: keep black people out. And when civic engagement was not enough, when government failed, when private banks could no longer hold the line, Chicago turned to an old tool in the American repertoire—racial violence. “The pattern of terrorism is easily discernible,” concluded a Chicago civic group in the 1940s. “It is at the seams of the black ghetto in all directions.” On July 1 and 2 of 1946, a mob of thousands assembled in Chicago’s Park Manor neighborhood, hoping to eject a black doctor who’d recently moved in. The mob pelted the house with rocks and set the garage on fire. The doctor moved away.
In 1947, after a few black veterans moved into the Fernwood section of Chicago, three nights of rioting broke out; gangs of whites yanked blacks off streetcars and beat them. Two years later, when a union meeting attended by blacks in Englewood triggered rumors that a home was being “sold to n*ggers,” blacks (and whites thought to be sympathetic to them) were beaten in the streets. In 1951, thousands of whites in Cicero, 20 minutes or so west of downtown Chicago, attacked an apartment building that housed a single black family, throwing bricks and firebombs through the windows and setting the apartment on fire. A Cook County grand jury declined to charge the rioters—and instead indicted the family’s NAACP attorney, the apartment’s white owner, and the owner’s attorney and rental agent, charging them with conspiring to lower property values. Two years after that, whites picketed and planted explosives in South Deering, about 30 minutes from downtown Chicago, to force blacks out.
— From “The Case For Reparations,” in The Atlantic
By Guest Contributor Alexandra Moffett-Bateau, cross-posted from The Feminist Wire
As a political scientist, during any given election year, I’m bombarded with questions about my assessment of the current electoral slate. The look of disappointment is always palatable when I tell folks that, that isn’t what I do. After all, what good is a black political scientist that doesn’t study black public opinion?
As a scholar, one of the things I’ve struggled with is pushing back against the dominance of voting based politics within black communities in our post-civil rights era, without minimizing the importance of showing up at the polling booth. After all, in a midterm election year, just like in presidential years, whether or not our communities show up can be a make or break for the services and programs that are desperately needed for our communities.
By Guest Contributor Rama Musa, cross-posted from Global Griot
The city of Houston is buzzing with conversations about the social role of art in neighborhood revitalization.
On Dec. 3, 2013, the Texan-French Alliance for the Arts (TFAA) co-organized “Think Thank: Arts, Identity and Urban Revitalization” at the Rothko Chapel. On Jan. 24 – 25, Project Row Houses organized “Social Practice, Social Justice,” a two-day symposium on art as an agent of social justice.
These discussions prompted John Guess Jr., CEO of the Houston Museum of African American Culture (HMAAC), to ask, “[In the onslaught of gentrification], how do community-based arts organizations transform the behavioral change of the people, provide a space for transcendence, and offer scholarship for the spirit?” Houston’s Project Row Houses and Rebuild Foundation in Chicago are two nonprofits whose radical social art projects have benefited from, and served as the last frontier against, rapid gentrification in African American neighborhoods.
Pop culture is a window into our lives and, while clumsy, USA Today did hit on something of a phenomenon. Representation of non-white people has increased, and it is noticeable because of how utterly abysmal it was before. “Scandal,” the show of the moment, earned its star the first Emmy nod for a black woman in 30 years. In the case of “Sleepy Hollow,” an interracial duo fights crime and monsters to win one of the hottest premieres of the season. Its producers credit the chemistry of its stars. But major press outlets forget to mention Nicole Beharie, the black female lead, at all. The omission is made more glaring by the fact that the overall diversity of the show has been one of its selling points. Orlando Jones, who plays Captain Irving, took to Twitter to note the gap.
Black Twitter, as both a player and a phenomenon, has been front and center of most of these discussions. As a member of “Black Twitter,” I’m conflicted about the moniker. My participation in feminist, geek or New York Twitter have yet to receive the same level of scrutiny as my membership in Black Twitter. At the same time, there’s joy in the name. Black. Twitter. Using the same social media everyone else is, this cultural movement has been a repeated source of insightful analysis, hilarity and virtual support that affirms the shared and diverse experiences of being black both online and off. One in four black people who are online at all is tweeting, using the platform to offer instant feedback on the news of the moment.
- The Discomfort Zone (Slate)
Shannon Gibney is a professor of English and African diaspora studies at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC). When that’s your job, there are a lot of opportunities to talk about racism, imperialism, capitalism, and history. There are also a lot of opportunities to anger students who would rather not learn about racism, imperialism, capitalism, and history. I presume MCTC knows that; they have an African diaspora studies program. Back in January 2009, white students made charges of discrimination after Gibney suggested to them that fashioning a noose in the newsroom of the campus newspaper—as an editor had done the previous fall—might alienate students of color. More recently, when Gibney led a discussion on structural racism in her mass communication class, three white students filed a discrimination complaint because it made them feel uncomfortable. This time, MCTC reprimanded Gibney under their anti-discrimination policy.
Elevating discomfort to discrimination mocks the intent of the policy, but that’s not the whole of it. By sanctioning Gibney for making students uncomfortable, MCTC is pushing a disturbing higher-education trend. When colleges and universities become a market, there is no incentive to teach what customers would rather not know. When colleges are in the business of making customers comfortable, we are all poorer for it.
- Herman Wallace: Surviving 40 years in solitary (BBC News)
Some prisoners are placed in solitary confinement because they have assaulted or killed another inmate or a guard. Others are held there because they are gang members – and are considered dangerous.
Prisoners in solitary confinement are held in their cells on “average 23 hours a day”, according to Craig Haney, a University of California professor who testified at the June 2012 hearing.
“Prisoners go for years – in some cases for decades – never touching another human being with affection,” he said. “The emptiness and idleness that pervade most solitary confinement units are profound and enveloping.”
Some prisoners in solitary confinement commit suicide. Others hurt themselves. One man in New Mexico, said Haney, “used a makeshift needle and thread from his pillowcase to sew his mouth completely shut”.
Last summer 30,000 California prisoners went on a hunger strike to protest against solitary confinement. State lawmakers said they would examine the issue – and the strike was cancelled. Years ago, inmates at the Angola prison were disturbed at the way that Wallace and others were treated in their isolated cells.
- Presumed Incompetent (Inside Higher Ed)
The 30 essays in “Presumed Incompetent” expose a nasty truth about Academia: it is not above the realities of everyday American life. It, in fact, reproduces and reinforces society’s inequalities, stereotypes, and hierarchies within its own walls.
That academic women, especially academic women of color, are often presumed incompetent, is probably not surprising to most. The virtue of this book is that it enables the reader to see that these experiences are not individual experiences nor are they the result of individual flaws. Keeping this insight in mind, these essays become more than just “stories” or anecdotes. They point to the larger structural and cultural forces within Academia that make the experience of being presumed incompetent for women of color far too common.
The book is a collection of various types of essays: scholarly literature reviews of the experiences of women of color, personal narratives, and interviews. The content is divided into five parts: “General Campus Climate”, “Faculty/Student Relationships”, “Networks of Allies”, “Social Class in Academia” and “Tenure and Promotion”. As one can tell readily from the themes, the book isn’t directed at students, nor is it meant primarily for use in a classroom (although there are several chapters that would be a good fit in courses that cover race, class, gender and sexuality issues). The book’s primary audience is faculty and administrators. It not only highlights the cultural and structural obstacles facing women of color in Academia, but proposes strategies and recommendations aimed at faculty and administrators. Several essays do this effectively, but Niemann’s concluding essay provides a particularly valuable summary of strategies and advice.
- Men Who Love “Scandal” (The Root)
Thursday night is date night at my apartment.
Nothing special, just drinks — a glass of water for me, red wine for her. We have not seen each other in months, and I’m excited to be reunited.
Her name is Olivia Pope.
We will meet in my living room, where she has shown up promptly at 10 p.m. on and off for the last 18 months. I will be on my couch. She will be in my television set.
She is not real, but my love for her, as she is played by Emmy-nominated actress Kerry Washington on the hit political drama “Scandal,” is very real.
Olivia and I will pick up where we last left off tonight with the season 3 premiere, and I will remain devoted to her week in and week out. I will tweet about Scandal incessantly while it airs. I will cut off any real dates with real women on Thursday nights by 9, and I will start every conversation on Friday with, “Did you watch ‘Scandal’ last night?”
- A Love Letter To the Hood (The Toast)
I’ve been trying to write about Chicago violence for a good two months now. The facts are easy to obtain from any major news source, though the way in which those facts are presented leaves a lot to be desired. Context matters, though, and it appears to be completely missing from most discussions concerning my city. If you were to take a map of Chicago marked with the neighborhoods with the highest rates of violence, and overlay it with a map of school closures, you might begin to see a pattern. Add in yet another map of cuts to public transit–including the decisions to shut down train lines for repairs for months or years at a time–and a picture emerges of neighborhoods that have been systematically isolated.
Experts on Chicago (who often are neither from Chicago or remotely educated about Chicago politics or Chicago history), often disparage the people in the community. And no, I’m not making excuses for gang violence. But when we talk about violence in the communities where gangs are most common, we have to talk about the economics of crime. We have to talk about the impact of poverty, of police brutality, of school closures, of services being cut over and over again to these neighborhoods. We have to talk about the impact of racism on wealth building in communities of color. We have to talk about politicians who think the solution to crime is to throw civil liberties out the window. We have to talk about why the institutional reaction to white-on-white violence was settlement houses, while the institutional reaction to violence in predominantly Black and Latino communities is to bring in the National Guard.
It’s easy to forget that the people living in those neighborhoods are more complex than a sound bite, when those sound bites are often all that make it into the mainstream media. There’s this idea that the community is responsible for fixing itself, as though these things are happening because the people living there have dozens of choices and they choose the ones that leads to violence.
- I Wasn’t Invited to the Talk-About-Race Deal. Good. I Didn’t Want to Be. So There! (Dallas Observer)
The basic model of a racially monochrome neighborhood does not come from anything good. It is not a legacy of pride. It is a legacy of racial segregation. And segregation is always bad in the long run.
Here’s what I found from my years of taking part in talk-about-race deals. They don’t do any good. Something about race simply eludes verbal exposition. Race isn’t a philosophy. It’s mental astigmatism, a distortion of the glorious reality that is our sameness, our absolute and fundamental equality as human beings.
I don’t know why, but you just can’t talk your way out of racism. You have to live your way out of it by working together, refereeing your kids’ fights and sleep-overs, hugging through your shared heartaches and victories, touching, seeing, feeling each other’s shared humanity. You have to live next door to each other, not across the river.
That’s not the story of “Raisin in the Sun.” If there is a white person alive who still goes to see “Raisin” in order to get black people, he needs to give up, go home and, every little chance he gets, stay quiet.
- Stop Talking About Single Mothers Unless You Have Some Solutions (Clutch Magazine)
It looks like the media found a new group to throw under the bus this week: single moms.
I really just want to say…keep our names out your mouth, yo…but I’m going to take a more diplomatic approach.
The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Think Progress, and a slew of blogs published essays discussing the decline in marriage rates and the rise of single parent households and what it means for America. In case you’re wondering, we’re doomed.
- Barbara Byrd-Bennett: It’s Not ‘Racist’ To Close Schools (The Chicago Sun-Times)
I am recommending that we close 54 schools because I believe, and I know that the Mayor believes, that we should not invest in buildings; we should invest in our children’s education. This is not about numbers on a spreadsheet for me. This is far more personal and close to the heart. This is about our children. This is about ensuring that they have a chance to succeed.
While some have called my recommendations racist, the true crime would be to continue to allow our children to attend schools not equipped to help them reach their God-given potential.
For too long, children in certain parts of Chicago have been cheated. They have been denied the resources they need to succeed in the classroom. And in far too many cases, these children are black and brown. They are trapped in underutilized, under-resourced schools. They are stuck because no one took the decisive, responsible and progressive action necessary to better their education. We cannot, and I will not, bury my head in the sand and pretend that there is a level playing field for all our children.
If we are to decry inequality, if we are to teach our children tolerance and humanity; if we are to teach our children the principles of equity and democracy, how can we stand by while thousands of children are deprived of the resources they need to have a fighting chance?
As a former teacher and a principal, I have lived through school closings. I know that we have a difficult road ahead. I know that this is painful, but in my 40 years as an educator, I have never felt more certain that we need to take this action now.
The always-inquisitive Jada Pinkett-Smith recently posed a question that has many people scratching their heads and some folks outright upset. In short, she’s wondering if black women ask to be represented in mainstream media, on the covers of magazines like Vanity Fair, shouldn’t white women be represented on the covers of traditionally black magazines like Essence, Ebony and JET?
The answer? Yes and no.
It’s not enough to have this discussion without a little bit of context. We didn’t come to this dilemma out of nowhere. There is a long, difficult history that informs our current dynamics around race that can’t and shouldn’t be overlooked. This country has a long history of exclusion and the many movements for equal rights and access including the women’s movement and the Civil Rights movement (both of which black women fought in) reminds us that every person is not considered deserving and some of us had to, and still have to, fight for representation.
Magazines like Ebony and Essence were created from a need for black people to see ourselves featured prominently and positively. Ebony, which was founded in 1945, aimed to focus on the achievements of blacks from “Harlem to Hollywood” and to “offer positive images of blacks in a world of negative images.” Back then it was rare for mainstream magazines like LIFE and LOOK to feature black people in a non-discriminatory way. During a time when blacks were fighting so diligently for equal rights, it must have been a devastating blow to morale to be disparaged in the folds of corporate media. We’ve seen other marginalized communities like the LGBT and fat communities create their own media for fair and just representation. This plight is not exclusive to black people.
- Immigrants Held In Solitary Cells, Often For Weeks (The New York Times)
Nearly half are isolated for 15 days or more, the point at which psychiatric experts say they are at risk for severe mental harm, with about 35 detainees kept for more than 75 days.
While the records do not indicate why immigrants were put in solitary, an adviser who helped the immigration agency review the numbers estimated that two-thirds of the cases involved disciplinary infractions like breaking rules, talking back to guards or getting into fights. Immigrants were also regularly isolated because they were viewed as a threat to other detainees or personnel or for protective purposes when the immigrant was gay or mentally ill.
The United States has come under sharp criticism at home and abroad for relying on solitary confinement in its prisons more than any other democratic nation in the world. While Immigration and Customs Enforcement places only about 1 percent of its jailed immigrants in solitary, this practice is nonetheless startling because those detainees are being held on civil, not criminal, charges. As such, they are not supposed to be punished; they are simply confined to ensure that they appear for administrative hearings.
- “Leaning In” In Iraq: Women’s Rights And War? (Al Jazeera)
In the weeks leading up to this 10-year anniversary of the 2003 war there has been precious little said about actual women’s rights in Iraq. Media venues and screens of all sorts instead are in full gear discussing feminist dilemmas in the US, from Sheryl Sandberg’s need for powerful women to lean in, to whether women – that fantasmatic unspecified category – can “have it all”, or “not”.
These are messy times we live in. Wars are said to end (and they really don’t) and the war/s on women across the globe – from Congo, to Egypt, to Afghanistan, to the US Republican party – are not counted amongst them anyway. There is much noise about Sandberg of Facebook fame telling women to lean in – meaning to stay at the table and persevere – to get top leadership roles, while most women here and elsewhere have no chance for the top rungs of power. Do not be confused by the fact that Secretary of States Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice, and Hillary Clinton oversaw the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hillary – who leans in readily – spoke on behalf of women’s rights while getting little in return.
It is problematic and troubling that Sandberg readily claims to be a feminist, without qualifying that her kind of feminism is corporatist and way too exclusionary. Her notion of “true equality” requires more women to be at the top – in leadership positions in government and the corporate structure. She supposedly believes that these women can change the world for the rest of women, and men. But, so far, they have not done so in meaningful ways. Shall I remind us of Madeleine Albright’s famous statement when asked about US sanctions against Iraq that endangered the lives of 100 of thousands children? She said: “We think the price is worth it.”
So what is a girl or woman to think? Hillary finishes up her stint as Secretary of State and is lauded as one of the best, ever. She is acclaimed for her “women’s rights” foreign policy agenda and the gratitude of women worldwide. Little is said about the imperial stance of her framing, or the gender violence that US policy has triggered and continues for women across the globe under her watch. Women in Iraq, and Afghanistan and Egypt are standing up, what Sandberg might term leaning in, but against patriarchal practices that US policy is implicated in.
Trigger Warning before the next selection
- Rick Ross Thinks Rape Is A Punchline (Ebony.com)
What’s so scary about Ross’ line is that this is something that a good number of men and boys actually do. Maybe a rap lyric won’t inspire an impressionable young dude to go and try to flip a couple keys, but normalizing this sort of rape? I see it. I see it and it scares me.
Because he’s tied to a major label and because the rape reference was so blatant, it’s likely that Ross will issue some sort of apology or come forward to say that it was just a joke—“Don’t really go out and do that now, y’all!” To that, I’d say…the title of his last studio album was God Forgives, I Don’t and, well, that’s one thing I have in common with the ex-cop. Not unless he commits himself to actively working to change his tune, and if that happened, he probably wouldn’t be signed to anyone’s major label anymore. So while this sister is praying for him and urging him to be some positive person that I’ve never observed him to be during his rap career, I just hope he goes away and fast.
- Georgia Man Shoots And Kills Young Latino Who Accidentally Pulled Into His Driveway, Police Say (NBC Latino)
“Basically, what happened is they were looking for one of my brother’s girlfriend’s friends,” says his brother David E. Diaz-Valencia, 23. “The guy came outside and my brother’s girlfriend said he was screaming, ‘Get off my property!’ and he shot into the air. My brother was backing out fast because he was scared and he rolled down the window to say he was sorry and he was not doing anything wrong. Then the guy shot him in his head.”
When officers arrived, Angie Rebolledo, Diaz’s girlfriend, had blood on her jeans, both arms and both hands as she was attempting to get a response from him and screamed frantically that her boyfriend had been shot, according to police.
Police arrested Sailors, of Lilburn, Georgia, who was booked into the Gwinnett County jail Sunday afternoon and charged with murder, according to the police report.
“At this point we have established probable cause to charge Mr. Sailors and when the investigation is complete, we will turn over the case file to the Gwinnett County District Attorneys Officer for processing,” Lilburn police Chief Bruce Hedley told NBC Latino. “To preserve the integrity of the case, I will not be releasing further information concerning this incident.”
- The ‘Acting White Theory’ Doesn’t Add Up (The Root)
The Acting White Theory is difficult to assess through research. Many scholars who claim to find evidence of this theory loosely interpret their data and exploit the “expert gap” to sell their findings. One of the best examples of this is Roland G. Fryer’s research paper (pdf) “Acting White: The Social Price Paid by the Best and Brightest Minority Students.”
Here Fryer uses the Add Health data to demonstrate, in a nutshell, that the highest-achieving black students had fewer friends than high-achieving black students. In his study, black students with a 3.5 GPA had the most friends of all academic levels, those with a 4.0 had about as many friends as those with about a 3.0 and those with less than a 2.5 had the fewest friends of all.
Overall, contrary to the study title, Fryer’s research clearly demonstrates that the “social price” paid by the lowest-achieving black students is far greater than the so-called price paid by the highest-achieving black students. Moreover, methodologically, the study has to make the ostensible leap that the number of friends a black student has is a direct measure and a consequence of acting white. Interestingly, Fryer used the same mammoth dataset that Satoshi Kanazawa used to pseudoscientifically “prove” that black women (actually teenage girls) are less attractive (actually rated less attractive by adult raters of an unknown racial background) — but I digress.
Beyond the confirmation bias and social anecdotes, many studies, including a recent study by Tina Wildhagen in the Journal of Negro Education, disprove the Acting White Theory. In my own research (pdf), I have noticed a “nerd bend” among all races, whereby high — but not the highest — achievers receive the most social rewards. For instance, the lowest achievers get bullied the most, and bullying continues to decrease as grades increase; however, when grades go from good to great, bullying starts to increase again slightly. Thus, the highest achievers get bullied more than high achievers, but significantly less than the lowest achievers.
- Altidore Shrugs Off Racist Chants, Says He’ll Pray For Abusive Fans (Sports Illustrated)
In the end, AZ won the game 5-0, but not before Wiedemeijer did suspend the match briefly as Den Bosch fans threw bottles and snowballs at the officials. (Den Bosch club administrators apologized to Altidore on Wednesday and pledged to identify and punish the participating fans.) Altidore would go on to convert a penalty for his 20th goal in all competitions this season, a career high, and while he didn’t mock the abusive fans afterward he did feel like it was one of the best responses he could have given to them.
“Of course, of course,” Altidore says. “They weren’t happy to see us win by that margin. I don’t think anybody expected that.”
Yet Altidore earned even more global respect for the way he responded after the game, striking a stance well beyond his 23 years and saying he’d be praying for the offending fans.
“That’s the first thing I was thinking about,” says Altidore, who grew up in Boca Raton, Fla., as the son of parents, Gisele and Joseph, who were born in Haiti. “The way I was raised, we never looked at black and white. My family has always stressed to me, yes, you will come against things that are different for a young black kid growing up. Let’s be honest about that, we’re still not over that. But at the same time, they always told me you can’t judge anybody by their color. You have to respect everybody for who they are and what they stand for.”
Everything is moving in the right direction, and in record speed, giving a case of whiplash to even the most veteran and cynical of immigration advocates. It seems that congressional leaders are holding on to what was once a third rail in American politics. In an interview with ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, John McCain, a crucial and, at times, unreliable ally, said he now backs not only the DREAM Act, but also a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. (As early as three years ago, the Arizona senator called such a pathway “amnesty.”) The following day, a group of senators (the “Gang of Eight,” as they have been coined) offered an imperfect and enforcement-heavy but (here’s the key word)bipartisan blueprint, laying out its principles for a workable immigration bill. Not to be left out, a group of House Republicans said on the same day that they too have a bill in the works.
If there were any doubts that the president viewed immigration as the top legislative priority of his second term, those were laid to rest when he said yesterday: “And if Congress is unable to move forward in a timely fashion, I will send up a bill based on my proposal and insist that they vote on it right away.”
Obama, as only a lame-duck president can, is staking his claim and going for the history books. And just as important as putting pressure on a bitterly polarized and often paralyzed Congress, Obama is framing the issue economically and culturally. He reminded us that, in recent years, one in four technology startups in America were created by immigrants, as were one in four new small businesses. He implored Americans to honor our country’s rich history of immigration and to remember that our country is in constant evolution, from the Pilgrims, the Irish, and Eastern Europeans, to the Asians and Latinos.
In the speech’s single most memorable line, this president who is still considered by some as “the other,” viewed as a foreigner in a country that twice elected him to the White House, eloquently said: “Before they were ‘us,’ they were ‘them.'”
- Girl Who Performed At Obama Inaugural Events Slain On South Side (The Chicago Tribune)
At Comer this evening, a group of young people sat and stood inside the entrance to the hospital’s emergency room, along with the principal of King high school.
Many hugged as they brushed tears from their eyes and consoled each other and Pendleton’s parents.
“She was awesome,” one girl said of Pendleton outside the hospital’s ER.
Friends of the slain girl said King was dismissed early today because of exams, and students went to the park on Oakenwald–something they don’t usually do.
Friends said the girl was a majorette and a volleyball player, a friendly and sweet presence at King, one of the top 10 CPS selective enrollment schools. Pendleton performed with other King College students at President Barack Obama’s inaugural events.
Neighbors said students from King do hang out at Harsh Park, 4458-70 S. Oakenwald Ave., and that students were there this afternoon before the shooting took place. A group of 10 to 12 teens at the park had taken shelter under a canopy there during a rainstorm when a boy or man jumped a fence in the park, ran toward the group and opened fire, police said in a statement this evening.
By Arturo R. García
If you’ve got 10 minutes to spare, this report from PBS Newshour is well worth your time, as it retraces the “social experiment” conducted by Maggie and John Anderson while buying exclusively from black-owned businesses for a year, a process Maggie Anderson chronicled in written form in the book Our Black Year.
The project, she told Newshour’s Paul Solman, was borne out of guilt.
“We thought we should be doing more, and we thought we should be doing stuff with the money that we made,” she said. “Make sure that whatever we do, it was with a black company, a black family company, buy a product made from a black company, use black professionals, shop in black communities.”
According to The Cleveland Plain Dealer the Andersons’ search for some basic needs took them far, far out of their comfort zones:
With high hopes of moving the needle, the Andersons transferred their money to a black bank, switched cell phone companies, and fed way more McDonald’s Happy Meals to their girls than optimal–because these black-owned businesses were plentiful.
But fewer own stores selling necessities like diapers, aspirin and fresh food. Maggie often drove for miles, stepping over trash and around winos to enter stores that looked like “post-apocalyptic mini-marts.”
“Are y’all lost?” wisecracks one loiterer.
Exasperated, Maggie overdoes the details of her forays scouring Chicagoland’s food desert. Her rage builds. “Everyone–I mean everyone–we saw on the street and in the stores was black, but not the store owners.”
The video is safe for work, and a transcript of the story can be found here.