‘Chicago Reader’ asks: "Why are whites afraid of blacks?"

Geneva Banks also asked, “Why do they always run from us?” We answer her

“Why is it that white people are afraid of black people?” asks 86-year-old Geneva Banks incredulously to a reporter from the Chicago Reader in an article published on November 1, 2012.

Why indeed? The article would report Mrs. Banks was part of the Great Migration of black people from the southern states, moving to Chicago as part of what we have dubbed “Manifest Destruction”:

In 1948, her mother was able to buy a two-flat in a racially mixed section of Hyde Park just west of the University of Chicago. The area turned black, and in 1963 the U of C’s urban renewal project forced her mother to sell.  

The “negro removal” project, as critics called it, displaced thousands of low-income Hyde Parkers, most of them black. By then Banks was married and had five children, and that’s when her family settled in South Shore. 

 The neighborhood was still mostly white; when her family came to look at the building, the owner made them come back after dark so the neighbors wouldn’t see he was showing it to blacks. By 1970, South Shore was 69 percent black; by 1980 it was 95 percent black, and it’s been about that ever since.   

“Why are whites afraid of blacks?” Banks asks me. “Why do they always run from us?”

Why do white people always run from black people? The octogenarians question continues to go powerfully – and tragically – unanswered in not just Chicago, but in every other city where black people have become a demographic majority.

Just in the narrative Mrs. Banks spun of her history in Chicago rests one of the reasons why white people are both afraid and run from black people: the economically devastating effects that black migration has to residential and commercial property value.

But if Mrs. Banks would like an answer to her question, well, we’ll supply it. The Chicago Tribune reported on December 4, 2012 that the continuing cycle of violence in the Windy City isn’t showing any signs of subsiding [Off-duty corrections officer among 11 shot Monday night, Tuesday morning].

Perhaps Mrs. Banks grandson, granddaughter, or perhaps a younger relative is part of the target audience of the $55 million that is being pumped into the almost exclusively black ‘tough’ neighborhoods of Chicago in a last ditch to keep blacks from killing one another [Questions surround $55 million program to cut violence in Chicago, CNN.com, 12-3-12]:

 On a chilly afternoon this fall, teenagers across Chicago’s South Side were busy at work, earning $8.75 an hour to hand out fliers with a message of non-violence. “Our message that we’re giving out today is about being healthy,” said 18-year-old Lucia Eloisa. “One of the key pointers is about taking time to reflect and seek inner peace.”   

Eloisa’s part-time job was paid for by an ambitious state-funded program to keep at-risk teenagers out of trouble. It pumped nearly $55 million into Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods and three of its suburbs to stem unrelenting gang violence. 

A four-month CNN investigation found that not only did the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative (NRI) pay teens to hand out fliers promoting inner peace, it also paid these at-risk teens to take field trips to museums, march in a parade with the governor, and even attend a yoga class to learn how to handle stress. 

Earlier this year, state legislators passed a resolution demanding the state conduct an audit on the program. That audit is under way. Supporters say the program kept kids off the streets of Chicago’s most dangerous neighborhoods and helped expose inner city youth to a broader culture, as well as cultivate future leaders. 

But critics wonder if it was just a waste of taxpayers’ money, considering that the city’s murder rate has risen since the program began two years ago. Or worse: was it just an effort to buy votes ahead of a tight race for governor?

Politically motivated or not, it’s hard to argue that the nearly $55 million spent on the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative helped stem violence in Chicago. Two years after the program was implemented, there have been 476 murders in the city, a nearly 20 percent increase over 2011. 

Midnight Basketball for black people isn’t working…

 Why is it extra money and programs are necessary to police your generations grandchildren, Mrs. Bank? Could — perhaps — the reason there were so many restrictions to your generations freedom in place be because white people passed laws that worked to protect not only their personal safety, but also their property (and, by extension, their fortune)?

Heather Mac Donald of City Journal reported in the 2010 Winter edition some crime statistics that might help explain to both the Chicago Reader and dear Mrs. Geneva Banks just why white people are afraid of black people [Chicago’s Real Crime Story

In Chicago, blacks, at least 35 percent of the population, commit 76 percent of all homicides; whites, about 28 percent of the population, commit 4 percent, and Hispanics, 30 percent of the population, commit 19 percent. The most significant difference between these demographic groups is family structure.

In Cook County—which includes both Chicago and some of its suburbs and probably therefore contains a higher proportion of middle-class black families than the city proper—79 percent of all black children were born out of wedlock in 2003, compared with 15 percent of white children. Until that gap closes, the crime gap won’t close, either.

Official Chicago’s answer to youth violence also opts for collective, rather than paternal, responsibility. The Chicago school superintendent, Ron Huberman, has developed a whopping $60 million, two-year plan to combat youth violence. The wonky Huberman, who created highly regarded information-retrieval and accountability systems for the police department and the city’s emergency response center in previous city jobs, has now applied his passion for data analysis to Chicago’s violent kids.

Using a profile of past shooting victims that includes such factors as school truancy rates and disciplinary records, he has identified several hundred teens as having a greater than 20 percent chance of getting shot over the next two years. The goal is to provide them with wraparound social services.

(The profile of victim and perpetrator is indistinguishable, but targeting potential victims, rather than perpetrators, for such benefits as government-subsidized jobs is politically savvy.) The program will assign the 300 or so potential victims their own “advocates,” who will intercede on their behalf with government agencies and provide them with case management and counseling.

In some cities, it’s a police officer who visits a violence-prone teenager to warn him about staying out of trouble. Chicago sends a social worker. 

From “Those Who Can See” Blog — Restrictive Covenants in Chicago (1947)

Talk about an awful lot of resources dedicated to keeping the grandsons and granddaughters of Mrs. Geneva Banks generation in line. Doesn’t seem to me the $60 million plan to combat youth violence worked out to well; as CNN noted, a $55 million Neighborhood Recovery Initiative (NRI) didn’t work out either.

Are you beginning to understand why much of Chicago had restrictive covenants in an attempt to keep neighborhoods white?; which means “keeping them safe” and free of relying on city and state grants totaling $105 million over a two-year time period to keep black kids from killing one another… 

Perhaps we should go back 20 years Mrs. Geneva Banks, and look at another failed attempt to keep black people – those sons and daughters of “The Great Migration” of blacks form the southern state – from killing one another. How about “midnight basketball? With teams sponsored by Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), what could go wrong? [Welcome To Night Court

Chicago’s Midnight Basketball League provides young inner-city males with a brief respite from urban violence, Sports Illustrated, 12-1-1991]:

A foot-stompin’, hand-pumpin’ crowd of 3,000 is shaking the rafters at Malcolm X College just west of the Loop in Chicago on this November night. Stirring up the fans is an all-star basketball game matching the best players from the Henry Horner public-housing project against those from the Rockwell Gardens project. The point guard for Horner, 20-year-old Dyonne Bowman, pounds downcourt and executes a flawless head fake and blind pass to his power forward beneath the basket. 

Two points. Bowman’s neighbors jump to their feet and do Arsenio Hall‘s “Woof! Woof!” cheer or jeer at the crowd from Rockwell. “You were used,” screams one girl, pointing her finger at the opposition. An infant barely four months old sleeps through the din on his mother’s lap. 

Welcome to the Midnight Basketball League, a six-year-old program whose aim is to keep black inner-city males off the streets by keeping them in the gym during some of the hours when they would most likely get into trouble. The league has taken hold in 20 cities across the country, but nowhere is the need for such a program more acute than in Chicago, where the school dropout rate for black males hovers around 50%, and where it is likely that this year alone at least a quarter of black males between the ages of 20 and 29 will spend time in Chicago-area jails. But the Midnight League is providing a glimmer of hope.

Midnight Basketball in Chicago is still small. At last count 73,098 people lived in the city’s 19 family public-housing developments, but only Horner and Rockwell, which together comprise 7,069 residents, fielded teams during the league’s first two years in Chicago. Two more projects have been added for the upcoming season, and if the money were available, all 19 would be participants. 

“The danger is holding this program up as a cure-all for everything that plagues our inner-city communities,” says Walker. “You can’t erase years of neglect with a couple of seasons of basketball. There are still killings, and there are still robberies.”  

Indeed, violent crime has increased in Chicago for three straight years, and the neigh borhoods encompassing public housing are by far the most dangerous. So how much impact have 160 basketball players had? 

“Statistically, it’s impossible to attribute anything directly to the league,” says Tina Vicini, director of news affairs for the Chicago police. Walker agrees that crime isn’t going down. He says, “But at least on nights when we play basketball, there are neutral zones—pockets of peace.”

The reality of racial crime in Chicago… is this why whites are afraid of blacks?
 (graph courtesy of SBPDL reader… in Poland!)

Midnight basketball, like the $105 million in combined city and state money spent in Chicago to keep black kids from killing one another, has done nothing to stem black people from acting… black. [Late-night hoops offer lifeline to young men, ABC 7 (Chicago), 6 – 4 – 2009]:

Researchers at the University of Chicago are studying ways to reduce violence in the Crime Lab. 

Professor Harold Pollack says there is value in rewarding positive behavior and keeping young people busy that time of night. 

“Giving young people opportunities for recreation at the times of days that are they are most at risk is important and making sure that those recreational opportunities are attractive and are run in a way that promotes the right values,” said Prof. Harold Pollack, University of Chicago Crime Lab. 

Perhaps the question should be this: why is it that we have to find carrots to dangle in front of black people to keep them from misbehaving? In a more… civilized time, we had a weapon called the law, enforced by police who were instructed with protecting the life and property of white citizens.

Now, we have a system of government that works to ensure white people have their wealth redistributed to be spent frivolously on programs such as the ones needed to keep blacks from killing one another in Chicago.

“Why is it that white people are afraid of black people?” asks 86-year-old Geneva Banks incredulously to a reporter from the Chicago Reader in an article published on November 1, 2012.

It’s a real shame that most white people have been afraid to share with you the reason why, Mrs. Banks. Once, we actually had a nation called the United States of America, where laws were on the books to protect the interests of white citizens and their property (restrictive covenants). This enabled the accumulation of capital and actual assets, which could be passed down to their posterity.

No longer.

But you also ask, to which the Chicago Reader reporter Steve Bogira offers no attempt at offering empirical evidence to answer, “Why are whites afraid of blacks?” Banks asks me. “Why do they always run from us?”

Look at the communities you have had a hand in helping to create, Mrs. Banks.

See the “Manifest Destruction” in your midsts.

There’s your answer.

Now you know why white people run from black people… may the day come when they stop running.



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