October Update

Bought a standard poodle puppy.  Bringing him home October 5, so October will be full of housebreaking, and FUN.

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Radio Sociology

Years ago, I worked as a substitute elementary school teacher for the Chicago Board of Education.  One day I was assigned to a school in the inner city, a few blocks west of 79th Street and Stony Island Avenue.  During a break from class, I got into conversation with a regular first grade teacher there.  She was a dancer, whose early career had been in ballet.  She was lithe and attract, clearly loved by her six-year-old students.  As a teacher, she felt strongly, that part of her job was to bring the culture of our big, diverse city into the lives of her little charges. 

         This teacher took advantage of every bit of travel money she could get her hands on to take her classes on field trips to museums, downtown parks and statuary, the gorgeous main library, etc.  No matter where she took her students, she insisted their mothers must come too.  She did this, she said, because most of those mothers had never ventured more than a few blocks away from their homes, and they needed to get to know the City too.  I was in awe: what a brilliant, important idea. 

         Yesterday morning, I listened to “848,” a daily program on Chicago’s local NPR station, WBEZ.  It was first in a series on racism.  It was broadcast from BJ's Market and Bakery at 79th and Racine.  (This is the third BJ’s, the original one is at 8734 S Stony Island Ave., the second at 9645 S Western Ave.)  John Meyer, the owner, was invited to open the restaurant at 79th and Racine to help improve the neighborhood, a venture that’s turning out well!

         One point the reporters on the program stressed was that neighborhoods are segregated if they consist of only one race, period.  In other words, if I’m white, and I live in an all-white neighborhood, I am living in segregation.  Wow, what a concept!

         A second point: It isn’t race or ethnicity that makes a neighborhood safe or crime-ridden, highly educated or not so highly educated.  These are consequences of higher or lower income levels  Segregated neighborhoods are often economically segregated as well as racially segregated.

         Another excellent point, the one that reminded me of the first grade teacher I described at the beginning of this post: On a trip to Starbucks, teens from a segregated, low-income neighborhood feel intimidated and out of place.  Why?  They don’t know the Starbuck's lingo.  Never heard of “tall, grande, venti.”  Never heard of “skinny, half-caf, wet, dry, macchiato.”  Never mind the choices of syrup, etc.  Yet Starbucks is a common location for career networking.  So these teens need to become familiar with Starbucks and its ilk just to get ahead.  We really do need to integrate our neighborhoods racially and economically.


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