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Archive for the ‘Spiritual Meztizo’ Category

In my next few posts I’m going to explore the inequities and inconsistencies for people of color in a neighborhood that on the surface appears a model of urban progressive values amend cultural diversity. I live in Rogers Park, one of Chicago’s most diverse neighborhoods: 1/3 #Anglo white; 1/3 #AfricanAmerican; 1/3 #Hispano. Economically, there is also a split between those who are solidly in the Middle class; those who are working but struggling and those while are truly poor. Many of us moved to Rogers Park or returned as established adults to where we spent our childhoods or college years BECAUSE of this diversity and our commitment to live and raise families in a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural community whose composition reflects the City of a Chicago as a whole.
But despite this collective aspiration, we find ourselves and our neighborhood —and really the whole north side of Chicago,–in a stranglehold of inequality where white people –and in my neighborhood WHITE MALES hold the power and the public purse strings.
Rogers Park is largely within the boundaries of Chicago’s 49th Ward: The Alderman of more than 20 years is a middle-aged white man whose progressive, independent credentials have been tarnished over time (he votes with the Mayor almost 100% of the time); the President of the Ward’s Democratic Party is also a white male passing from middle age to senior citizenship–he was a leftist political organizer as a young man and is now a part of the Alderman’s juggernaut . The Democratic Party Committeeman ( an elected position) recently died–he was also a white male, slightly younger than the other two, but very ill for several years. It is unclear who will replace him. But as I said, this is similar to much of the north side– the white power elites control the political apparatus in wards and districts where they are the distinct minority. Black and Brown political power is concentrated in parts of the city that are racially, ethnically and economically segregated –and even then, certain white Anglo men are still being elected as Aldermen (see Ed Burke) and state representatives ( see Alderman Burke’s brother Dan and Speaker of the House Michael Madigan) from areas that are overwhelmingly Hispano. What African Americans endured from the 40’s to the 70’s is now happening in the barrios. And in those Chicago wards labeled multi-ethnic, it is happening to all non- whites. Hthe dirty little secret of Chicago’s diversity is that whites are still in control.

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On the day that ABC and Univision have launched their media joint venture #Fusion –aimed at #Hispanic #millenials and their amigos, it is obvious to me that we are still awash in prejudice and racism that expresses itself in outrageous statements of hatred from the righting and genteel uncomfortability on the left.
Yes Anglos will gobble up tortillas and jibaritos and paella with gusto and dance to Alston music all night long and look for clothing ANC accessories that have a “south of the border ” flair , but don’t expect them to seriously study Spanish or the politics of immigration or create school boards and parish councils that reflect the true demographic strength of the Hispanic presence in our communities. More to come on this. But consider that over 60% of the students in the LA schools are Hispanic. More than 50% of the school population in Illinois are students of color. Probably more than half of the Catholics in the three dioceses on the Chicago area are Hispanic. This is a silent majority, erased but not eliminated– and waiting patiently for there turn at the table.

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I am getting ready to register children for the Religious Education program that I supervise. I work at a primarily Anglo Catholic parish, but my students are almost all #Hispanos. For the next 20 years or so, I think this will be common at schools, churches and other social institutions, especially in the Catholic church: The children who are “consumers” of education or other services will be largely Hispanic; the leadership of the institutions will be Anglo, and often Anglos who are contemptuous of the Hispanos who are the next generation of “their” church. One thing I try to share with Hispanos families and volunteers from my life in the Jewish community: This happened to eastern European Jews as well 100 years ago. The German Jewish community shunned the more recently arrived Ashkenazim who poured out of Russia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire after 1880: German Jews in the U.S. built separate hospitals and synagogues and settlement houses for the “Ost Juden,” hoping to corral them in a way that wouldn’t embarrass their hard-earned respectability in Anglo-Saxon America. But in the end, it was the Jews “from the east” who defined the American Jewish community and enriched the lives not only of other Jews, but of America as a whole. I hope and pray and know, as a social scientist, that this will also come to pass for Hispanos in the United States: They will come to transform the Catholic church and “gift” it with a spirituality of personal holiness and communal celebration that will revive a groaning institution, and a nation that needs revival and redefinition as well. In the meantime, it’s tough going for the majority of Hispanos who DON’T live in a barrio or suburb where Hispanic adults are in the majority or at least a plurality that grants them some political power. Instead they are kicking away at the box the Anglos have put them in. But ask Sam Cooke sang 50 years ago about an earlier struggle for freedom and recognition (a struggle, that is still, unfortunately, in progress) “A change gonna come.”

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