Don’t call it “diversity.” Call it “racial segregation.” And “powerless.”


The map on the left shows how Chicago wards voted in the last election for mayor. Green wards voted for Mayor Rahm. Red wards voted for Chuy Garcia. The map on the left shows segregated Chicago. Blue is white. Green is Black. Orange is Latino. The line up perfectly with the results of the election.

This morning I found two pieces of data that I think are interesting and that I wish to share with you.

The New York Times has published a map and data that shows that if you are born in Cook County and poor, the odds are you will stay poor your entire life.

They call that lacking income mobility.

A passive phrase. Like shit happens.

This is a timely piece of information because I just got into one of those Facebook exchanges with a friend over the idea of American exceptionalism and the ability to pull yourself up by your boot straps if you just tried hard enough.

This is a myth. In America most poor kids grow up to be poor adults.

Friday, FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver posted an article with data about the relationship of diversity to segregation.

At some point the words racial integration became the word diversity.

I can’t pinpoint the moment. But there was a point when I noticed it. Maybe 1982.

Maybe it was around the same time we changed the way we pronounce the name of the planet, Uranus.

We no longer had racial segregation. We had a lack of diversity.

Segregating people was an active phrase. It was something we actively did.

Lacking diversity was a passive phrase. As in, how did that happen? It was like that when I got here.

The change in language led to things like corporations having diversity training.

Which never challenged racism.

Nate Silver’s data shows that Chicago is an incredibly diverse city and an incredibly segregated one.

It is diverse because lots of different kinds of people moved here.

It is segregated because of intent and policy.

What Silver doesn’t mention is how the policy and practice of segregation impacts political power.

As in our last election for Mayor.

The votes of four Lakefront white wards elected Mayor Rahm.

In fact most white Chicagoans have never voted for a mayoral candidate of color.

I believe that before something can be addressed, it must be named.

Like racism.

13 thoughts on “Don’t call it “diversity.” Call it “racial segregation.” And “powerless.”

    1. This is a post-election narrative that supports my point. In truth, whites voted in much higher percentages for Rahm than any other group and yet that is just assumed.

      1. Of course it’s assumed that whites (especially the affluent ones) would vote for Rahm – I would have been shocked had it been any other way. But if the black vote and the Latino vote could have been united, Rahm’s @$$ would have easily been handed to him on a platter. Guess I’m baffled why blacks would vote for Rahm after what he’s done to the neighborhoods rather than vote for Chuy.

      2. Dienne, I agree with you. The Blacks and Latinos did not do a good job of uniting. My family is of mixed races. I spend a lot of time on the South Side east of the Ryan. The streets there have potholes from the last two + winters. They just started to repair them because of the election. If they could have repaired those streets as quickly a they constructed the NFL Draft Village, Rahm would be more of a true mayor for the people.

        Some of the blacks who I have contact with told me, prior to the election, that if Chuy gets in, the Mexicans will want to take over. I heard that same cry from whites when Harold Washington was running. If Harold gets in, the blacks will want to take over. Man, people have to wake up. So they didn’t vote for Chuy, now they’ll have more of the same. Oh yeah, thanks Luis G for selling out your people.

  1. Dienne,
    White voters from all economic classes vote nearly in lockstep for the white candidate. They always have. Only two wards with white pluralities voted for Chuy. Some white wards gave Rahm over 80% of the vote. No Latino or Black ward voted for either Chuy or Rahm with 80% of the vote. The closest Chuy came to that kind of unity was in his 22nd ward. The story of the mayoral election was white racial solidarity. Black and Latino voters have always been willing to vote for a white candidate. It can be argued whether that was in the best interest of the city. But it was not the result of racism. The majority of white voters in Chicago never have voted for anyone other than the white candidate . So, the why of Black voters for Rahm may be complicated. But the why of white solidarity for white candidates is not complicated. It is obvious and sinister.

    1. I agree with you, but I think it’s something that needs to be talked about. As a white person, I’m probably going to stumble into a deep pile of something, but, nevertheless, here goes. We have this lovely term “people of color” which I have issues with on so many levels, but germane to this conversation is the idea that the term implies that all other races besides whites are part of this big happy kumbaya tent while we whites are the only ones left out. But time after time throughout history, when people of other races/tribes/ethnicities/etc. could unite together, they don’t. They unite with the whites against whatever other group they apparently perceive as worse than the whites. Yes, part of it is that whites engineer it that way. But the other part of it is that minorities allow it to be engineered. Farbeit for me to tell any minority group what to do, but unless they want to keep getting sh*t on by the likes of Rahm, they’re going to have to figure out how to work together.

      And I say this as someone who spent a great deal of time protesting and arguing and writing in favor of the CTU strike and against the closing of schools in black and brown neighborhoods. I thought I was doing so (along with many, many other whites) in solidarity with blacks and Latinos. But if they don’t care about the shuttering of their own schools enough to boot out the man responsible, I guess I’m left wondering why I bothered.

      And, yes, I know I’m painting with a very broad brush – many of “them” did, in fact, vote for Chuy, as shown by the varying shades of green. Still, though. It’s obvious why whites who benefit from the power structure would continue to vote for it. It’s disheartening that those who are getting beaten to a pulp by the power structure continue to vote for it, presumably because they view the alternative as worse.

  2. I know you were active in the movement to stop the school closings. Me too. However, even as a grandparent and retired teacher, I never thought I was acting only in solidarity. Every neighborhood school was our school. The important distinction is that when white voters, most of whom “are being beaten to a pulp by the power structure,” vote against their own interests because of the skin color of the candidate – and have done that time and time again, – the reason is racism. Given all the tasks we have set for ourselves, I believe that addressing the issue of some white people’s willingness to make the worst choices because of skin color is the bigger challenge for us.

  3. “There are” Jack Retired Water…….reading your one sentence post it certainly doesn’t surprise me. Obviously, caucasians haven’t cornered the market on brains. As an educator, Fred, I hope you corrected this dumb white guy! Giggle giggle. White guy of average intelligence here. Me kan’t stop laffing.

    1. If spelling errors were a measure of intelligence, I would be a major fail. I constantly mistake there, their and they’re. And its and it’s. And your and you’re. If we all had proof-readers it would be a different matter. And as for me doing corrections. No way. Your on your own.

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