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Oct. 21 2009 - 3:10 pm | 486 views | 0 recommendations | 34 comments

Do suburban families deserve the crime Section 8 tenants bring with them?

Vegas Suburb

photo by ulybug on flickr

Maybe middle-class white families deserve the crime and disorder that some Section 8 tenants are bringing into their lives.

There, I said it.

Joe the Cop and I have been writing back and forth about the problems with Section 8 housing. I wrote about how we know concentrated poverty doesn’t work, but no one wants Section 8 tenants living next door to them personally.

Joe wrote about his personal experiences with Section 8 tenants in the suburbs. He had some really frightening and sobering stories about neighborhoods that have been drastically altered by former inner-city families moving in down the street.

I can’t deny that that’s a real phenomenon. While I don’t think Section 8 tenants can be blamed on the whole, I think there’s real evidence that one unintended consequence of the Section 8 housing program is moving crime and disorder to new places as families try to break the cycle of poverty.

But something struck me yesterday when I was reading Joe’s response. At the end, he writes:

I don’t know what the solutions are to the problems of providing affordable housing
and helping people out of poverty.  I do know that most people are rightfully wary of the crime and dysfunction that follows Section 8 into their neighborhoods, and they don’t deserve to suffer the results of our good intentions.

I can’t argue with Joe’s experience. I think what he’s saying makes sense.  Section 8 was based on a very small, intensive program that helped people to break the cycle of poverty. As it was expanded, the intensity waned. We’re discovering that just plopping a family in the middle of a new neighborhood can help some people, but it doesn’t help
everyone. It’s more complex than that.

What struck me is the idea of the other families on the block deserving a safe community.

I don’t really think they do.

You probably think I’m crazy. Everyone deserves a safe community, right? Well, yes. They do in theory. I want everyone to live in a safe, peaceful community with puppies and swingsets and dainty yellow
butterflies.

But we didn’t set it up that way. Now karma is biting the white community’s ass, and I can’t say I’m that sad.

For three hundred years, this country has been set up and intentionally structured to benefit one group of people while taking away from another. Slavery, sharecropping, Jim Crow, segregation, discrimination. The thing about our society’s racism is that it wasn’t just against black people, but it was for white people.

Sociologists call this “white privilege,” and it extends to everything from inheriting the education and wealth
of your grandmother to the impression your name gives to a prospective employer.

Housing is one of the most significant parts of white privilege.

Holc_redlining_map.jpg

A 1936 redlined map of Philadelphia from Wikipedia

Back in the 1930s, Congress passed the Federal Housing Act, which allowed government financing for home-buyers. Before that, only the rich could own homes. The Housing Act allowed every day people to buy their own home, the essence of the American dream.

Trouble is, all the loans went to white people and white neighborhoods. Ever heard of redlining? Banks would draw lines around areas of the city they felt were too risky to invest in – areas that just happened to be black neighborhoods.

White families have benefited from these years of home-ownership. Property is wealth, and it’s the main way we pass on wealth to the next generation.

By contrast, black neighborhoods didn’t have this resource. Black neighborhoods became predominately rental buildings because no one could get a loan. Then industrial factories left these neighborhoods, creating a vacuum of jobs where gangs and drugs could fill.

If you’re white, you benefited from the Fair Housing Act. You benefited at the expense of black citizens and black
families that couldn’t pass on wealth to their children.

More than 70 years after the Fair Housing Act was passed, we’re still as segregated. In Chicago, 84 percent of the white or black population would have to move to be integrated, according to the Chicago Tribune.

It’s not just housing. There are a million ways in which white people have benefited at the expense of black people.

In America, we think of responsibility in terms of the individual. I am responsible for myself, and you are responsible for yourself. If I do omething stupid, I should bear the weight of the consequences.

But in other cultures, at other times, responsibility was felt inter-generationally and culturally. Just look at the Bible – people are always being held responsible for something their great-great-grandfather’s father did years ago.

I think there’s something to that.

Did I personally design public housing high-rises that concentrated poverty and race and then neglect them over years and years to create a housing system that was a living hell for many?

No. I wasn’t even born then.

But I benefited from it. My parents were able to escape Detroit and move to the suburbs with all the other white families. We bought a house in the country. My family invested in land, and I have benefited from that in
more ways that I can count.

Maybe happy white families in the suburbs don’t personally deserve to be hurt by crime. But maybe we’re
just getting what’s been coming to us for generations. As a culture, as a people, we have systematically kept black people from succeeding and profited from it. Now, we’re reaping the rewards by bringing some of
the hell we created for other people to where we live.

I don’t think Section 8 is the answer to housing once and for all. I think it has a lot of problems. I’m not saying people should shut up about crime in their neighborhoods. I’m just uncomfortable with the idea that we “deserve better” when millions of black children born in the inner-city generation after generation “deserved better” too.


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  1. collapse expand
    Kyra Kyles

    While I certainly understand your points, this headline on its face is very misleading. Why would it be “white” families? The way this is worded seems to suggest that only white families are of middle-class and higher economic standing. Surely, that is not the case. I live in Bronzeville where gentrification issues pit black singles, couples and families with more money against their neighbors who may have less and look just the same as they do. Of course, race plays a part in this, but is not the sole factor. Just a thought, though I did take great interest in your writing about this topic and particularly racial privilege, a hot-button issue. I’ll be interested to see what others have to say on this.

  2. collapse expand
    Joe the Cop

    Interesting. I never said anything about “white” neighborhoods, although I’m sure that would be the assumption of most readers, knowing I’m a suburban cop. The victims of the crimes committed by the Section 8 renters I mentioned were Asian, South Asian, Middle-Eastern and Latino. Some of them were also “white”, being fairly recent immigrants from eastern Europe. Is there a South Asian or Latino privilege, to go along with the “white” privilege enjoyed by our Polish-speaking immigrant population?

  3. collapse expand
    Brian Moore

    I guess my black neighbors in the burbs are safe. I’ll let them know.

  4. collapse expand
    Message from Montie

    I started not to click on this blog because the title was so rough for me. The title alone separates blacks from whites, ignoring the fact that there are nonwhite families who live in Section 8 Housing. It also ignores the fact that black families also have to deal with Section 8 Housing. And it even ignores the fact that black families living INSIDE of Section 8 Housing have to deal with violence.
    I get where you’re going with this blog though about the benefits of “white privilege.” I took a couple of courses in grad school about “whitness,” so I can get that. As far as the benefits over centuries time, if you ask those same people in Section 8 Housing would they rather be able to teach some other group a lesson by hanging around causing a violence due to the history of their ancestors or move out of these neighborhoods, find suitable jobs to get out of Section 8 Housing, and be able to live comfortably, I’d be amazed if they didn’t choose the latter.
    Why do you think there are so many rappers who swear they grew up in the ghetto but are living and driving in some of the most materialistic and expensive items they possibly can? They’re happy to be able to have that. Old money wears jeans. New money wants to sport money every chance he/she gets. I don’t think people should just deal with violence because of history. I don’t think anybody deserves to live in a neighborhood with crime surrounding them. With that logic, I can say that my family deserved to be surrounded by gangs because of our history, never mind that I’m black too.
    I don’t want guilt trips to be the reason people pay attention to Section 8 Housing. I want the job need to be the reason people pay attention to Section 8 Housing. None of those people want to live there, at least if they do, I haven’t met any yet, and I’ve met and been cool with many people who have.

  5. collapse expand
    Joe the Cop

    And, like I mentioned in my post, most of the communities hardest hit by the blight that accompanies section 8 are hardly “white”, they’re predominantly working-class and poor African American. The question you should ask in your post headline is “do black families deserve the crime Section 8 tenants bring with them?” My answer would be no, they don’t.

  6. collapse expand
    Message from Montie

    Joe the Cop, you make a strong point. Thank you for pointing out that you didn’t specify white neighborhoods because I was thinking of neighborhoods on the south side where I’ve hung out with black families who are tired of the violence surrounding them.

  7. collapse expand
    Sassafras

    “Race: the Power of an Illusion” was produced by California Newsreel and is available http://www.newsreel.org/nav/title.asp?tc=CN0149&s=race

  8. collapse expand
    Megan Cottrell

    Hi Kyra – thanks for reading. I always enjoy your posts, and it’s great when people you like read your own stuff.
    You’re right about the title. I didn’t mean it to be misleading, but I can see how it was. Thanks for your comments!

  9. collapse expand
    Megan Cottrell

    Hi Montie -
    I don’t think anyone deserves to live in crime. I’m not condemning people to crime, nor am I trying to guilt trip people. What I was trying to say, and maybe that was misunderstood, is that our country’s policies over the years of segregation and discrimination created a lot of the neighborhoods that we are now dispersing. People who had no choice but to live in violent neighborhoods succumbed to the violence around them and their families were impacted by that. Now we’re dispersing that crime, and alot of people are threatened by that, but I think it’s important to see that our policies created that.
    I don’t understand your points about people not wanting to live in Section 8 housing. I generally agree with you – people use it as a stepping stone and want to move forward. I meet and talk with residents of all kinds of public housing every day, and that’s my perspective on why people are there.
    As far as guilt, I think there’s a difference between guilt and understanding white privilege. I don’t need to feel guilty to recognize that society has been structured to give advantages to some people at the cost of others. If people feel guilty about it, I think it’s important that they reflect and fully understand our nation’s history and the structural – not just the personal – causes of racism and poverty.

  10. collapse expand
    Megan Cottrell

    I think my headline is a little misleading, but I can’t change it now.
    One of the reasons Section 8 tenants have gone to mainly black working class neighborhoods, instead of white middle to upper class neighborhoods, is that they were (and many argue still are) steered there. There was a case a few years ago, where tenants and an organization sued, saying that the placement of Section 8 tenants was racially motivated, just like the building of the public housing high rises was.
    I think you’re right, Montie, that there are a lot of neighborhoods on the south side that are tired of violence surrounding them. I’m skeptical, however, of all that violence being blamed on Section 8 tenants.

  11. collapse expand
    Megan Cottrell

    Thanks – I will update above.

  12. collapse expand
    Andy

    I just logged on to this site- a classmate suggested it because I’m interested in housing issues. I’m also from Portland, Maine so I don’t know the situation in Chicago. I did spend a few years housing people from homeless shelters using section 8 and other subsidies.
    From what I read the issue is not simply boiled down to race or section 8 housing.
    Is the issue crime? If you have section 8 then you are poor and poor neighborhoods are more likely to have increased crime. The stats are there. We do what we know, what we are surrounded by.
    If residents feel like section 8 is importing criminals to their neighborhood the best bet is to go and talk with the people on section 8. They don’t want crime either. Move past the “us” and “them” mentality.
    If you want people to integrate into a new community they need support during and after transitions (ie moving to a different neighborhood). People do what they know. If you want people in a new neighborhood to become invested in that neighborhood you get them involved in the neighborhood.
    I don’t think the issue is section 8. I don’t think the issue is race. I do think the issue is crime.

  13. collapse expand
    Scam

    So the people should pay for failed government policies?

  14. collapse expand
    tami

    well i think i popped on wrong site. im white,single mom of 2 working my butt off paying 700 a month rent. I heard about section 8 helping with rent and even buying home,with hours dropping at work i could really use the help.the only sites i can find about section 8 are blogs im not ashamed to admit i need help i would love a chance to get on the list but cant the list is always full the day it opens i get off work by then all the people filled it up. not tring to put anyone down but most of section 8 people dont work..why should they section 8 pays rent public aid food. so they never better them seft to get off section 8. and people like me who just wants lift cant cause its filled……sorry if im going off subject but dam i get upset about people that dont have 2 work and living it up when the ones that are tring to raise kids right seems like are the losers… my teen is aways seeing teens on MTV spending 1000’s on sweet 16 partys cause they were born into money are gangers driving nice cars with money from sellin not having to work. kids are seeing the good life on tv and easy money making on streets how do you try to tell them the right thing to do is get a job and love the 300 you bring home a week, while the kid down the street can make that in a hour…..all i can say is nice job to the new man in the white house keep giving the no working people help good job raising their food stamps to 800 a month cause they need it huh

  15. collapse expand
    ScottD

    Megan,
    This is THE dumbest things I’ve read in a long time—and I read a lot. You are saying that for some reason “white” people deserve to be around crime and blight for some reason?
    Well, I am “white”, grew up very poor and was able to work hard , go to college–and grad school– (w/o affirmative action)and buy a very modest middle class condo. My life is ruined because of dysfunctional subsidized sec8 creeps moving in and bringing noise and blight to my building. My rich friends do not have to deal with this issue because, they are rich and do not have to live near blight.
    Why should I pay tax dollars and association fees to support drug addicted slugs who contribute nothing to society? You are also racist because you assume that there are no middle-upper-class people of color.
    Megan, i’d suggest you learn more about the world before polluting it with your misinformation and naivety….not to mention self-hate.
    If you are suppose to be the future of this country, I’m seriously thinking of expatriating. Your generation is going to be the first to bring developing country status to the USA and I wish you wallow in the cesspool you create for yourself!

  16. collapse expand
    ScottD

    Furthermore Megan, your hateful article is akin to someone say wishing metastatic cancer on you and your family and friends because you are White and privileged and haven’t suffered enough.
    How is it different? Wishing ill will on people. To write something like this, I would have to question your upbringing and mental state.

  17. collapse expand
    urbancitygirl

    I agree with ScottD, the article is hateful! The entire premise of the article stinks of white priviledge and doesn’t begin to address the economic disparities of ALL races/ethnicities without hope and opportunity. I clicked on this blog because it was recommended by a friend. I’m going to chew her out!!
    Usually, I hear this kind of ignorance in a restaurant of young, spoiled, giggly girls with no working knowledge of capitalism and economics before they segway into a conversation about “The Hills” or “True Blood”. The fact that such ignorance could now pass for journalism and make its way to cyberspace makes me sad.

  18. collapse expand
    Megan Cottrell

    Hi Andy -
    I agree that the issue is not just race and housing. I don’t think I can address all the issues in one single blog post. That would be a book. I think if you read my many many other posts, you would see many more issues being presented.
    I agree about moving past the us and them mentality. I wanted to right this post to challenge people’s ideas about what they “deserve.” I think we’re all quick to point fingers at each other and not take a wide look at what’s happening and how that relates to what has happened. We can’t forget our history just by correcting wrongs. It still lives with us and affects us.
    However, I disagree with you on your last point. I do think the main issue is crime. But I think you can’t put housing and wealth and crime and race into separate little boxes and deal with them. They’re all intertwined. If we want to fix it, we have to take all of those things, even the ugly stuff.
    Thanks for commenting, though. I really appreciate comments that are both challenging and kindly worded.

  19. collapse expand
    Megan Cottrell

    Hi Scam -
    We’re supposed to be a government for the people, by the people and of the people. So can we really separate ourselves from our policies?
    An example for you. When CHA officials wanted to put public housing in upscale white neighborhoods in the 1950s and 60s, the alderman blocked them. It became a rule that if an alderman said no, he didn’t have to have public housing in his ward. So that’s the governments fault, right? Except the reason aldermen were against it is that they knew their constituents wouldn’t be happy and they wouldn’t get reelected. Our public officials represent us and our interests.
    Well, of course, not all the time. Sometimes the government doesn’t represent the people, and sometimes, even if it represents the majority of people, it ignores a small group or an individual’s opinion.
    And I don’t think or hope (despite what many of these commenters have said) that people become the victims of crime or pay for failed policies. Not at all. I would never wish harm on anyone. I just wonder if what goes around comes around, and if, like it or not, we are “paying” for what our forefathers bought.
    Thanks for reading and commenting.

  20. collapse expand
    Megan Cottrell

    Hi Tami -
    It sounds like what you’re going through is really frustrating. It must be so difficult to be a single mom of 2 and working so hard. Rent is so high everywhere, and it’s so difficult to make ends meet. I imagine that years and years of that have made it really difficult for you.
    I’m so sorry that you haven’t been able to find any affordable housing choices. That sucks. A lady emailed me the other day to tell me that she actually did get on the Section 8 list over a year ago, but a year has gone by, and she learned they have not called a single name on it! There is such a shortage of affordable housing for working families like you who deserve it.
    Since you have internet access, I saw these ads on the train the other day with two new sites for housing and food help.
    They are: http://www.direct2housing.org/
    and
    http://www.direct2food.org/
    Although the section 8 housing list isn’t open, the public housing general list may open in this next year. I would also urge you to try local community development places like Bickerdike or Lawndale Christian Development Corporation. If you need help finding places to apply or getting information, please e-mail me at megan (dot) m (dot) cottrell (at) gmail.com. I would be happy to help. I know it’s a very confusing and frustrating promise.
    Thank you for all you do as a single mom, raising the next generation. It must be so hard to try to keep them on a good path when there are so many temptations out there. What you’re doing is so important and I’m sure you aren’t thanked enough or given the help you deserve.

  21. collapse expand
    Megan Cottrell

    Hi Scott – thank you so much for commenting. I appreciate you taking the time to share your ideas.
    I certainly don’t think that white people deserve to pay or hurt or be in trouble. That’s not it at all. I’m asking a question – are we inheriting the consequences of our ancestors? Have we hurt people for so long that what goes around comes around, and we’re now paying for it?
    As far as being racist, I have already admitted that in a previous post. Thanks for pointing that out. I think it’s impossible not to be racist in a society that’s so highly racialized as our own.
    Of course I know that there are middle and upper class people of color. I’m not talking about income – I’m talking about wealth. While there are many many families that have worked hard, like yourself, to create a good steady income for their family, the wealth gap is still there. A recent study shows that the average white family has a net worth of $90,000. The average Latino family? $8,000. And the average black family? Just $6,000.
    Thank you for your suggestion that I learn about the world. There is always more to know. I do my best to read, listen to the news, write and most importantly, spend hours and hours of my time in public housing, listening to residents, going to meetings and understanding urban issues. But I appreciate your suggestion.
    If you’re interested in moving to another country, here’s a site that can help you get a visa somewhere else. The cesspool will still be here if you want to visit.

  22. collapse expand
    Megan Cottrell

    Hi Scott – Thanks again for commenting. I’m actually quite happy because if you came back another time, it means you were still thinking about it after you left, which is what I intended.
    I think you’re right. Wishing someone ill would be a cause for alarm. Thank you for inquiring about my mental state and my upbringing. How kind of you to be so caring as to ask.
    But, I think I’m doing something different here than wishing ill will on people. I explicitly said in the article that I want everyone to have a safe place to live. You, me, everybody.
    What I’m saying is more along the lines of “what goes around comes around.” Kind of like the idea of karma (although I’m not Hindu, so I probably shouldn’t throw that idea around. Our cultural idea of “karma,” I mean.) I think we as Americans hurt one group of people for a long time. We did it through slavery. We did it through Jim Crow, through segregation, through discrimination. And now we’re trying to undo it, but it’s messy. It means we locked people into communities where there was nothing to do but be a criminal or hide in fear, and now we’re trying to undo that. But old habits die hard, and we’re finding it isn’t so easy to fix. And by fixing it, we’re bringing harm on ourselves, which is frustrating and makes us defensive.
    I can understand where you’re coming from, but I meant the word “deserve” as a sort of a foil to the idea that we “deserve” a safe place to live. I think, as Americans, we also tend to be a bit entitled and feel like because we have a country that’s peaceful and safe, that we deserve that when so many other people don’t.
    I don’t hate myself. I’m really proud of my white heritage. My mother and her parents immigrated here from Poland to escape communist rule after WWII. I’m proud of their heritage, and proud that they chose to come here. But I can also recognize that being white in this country has come with certain advantages. They’re advantages I didn’t ask for, but they also benefited me. I wrote this to help people question the advantages they have had and think about what they are entitled to.
    Again, thanks for commenting and thanks for coming back.

  23. collapse expand
    Megan Cottrell

    Hi urbancitygirl -
    I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy reading. Perhaps instead of chewing your friend out, you could just shrug your shoulders and say “that’s not my cup of tea.” I’d hate to be the cause of your friend feeling hurt and upset.
    I’m confused about how you think the article stinks of white privilege. Maybe you could explain more about that. I do not, as you say, address the economic disparities between all races and ethnicities. I’m sometimes bothered when people write and say “but you didn’t say this…” because it’s one blog post, not a book. I don’t have time to say everything or you would still be reading or have stopped because you got bored. Of course, problems with race and ethnicity and economics apply to more than just black and white. But I also think that the black/white race problem in America is very distinct and profound. That doesn’t minimize the struggles of other people – it just means that it’s something we should be able to address.
    I also think it’s a little funny that you are calling me “ignorant” and then telling me what kind of person I am. Just so you know, I studied political science and economics in college. I spent a summer living and working in Lawndale on the West side of Chicago, where my experience with race and economics led me to want to work in the city. I spend my time in public housing, talking to residents about their experiences and reading public policy books. I’ve never seen “The Hills,” and I apologize, but I don’t even know what “True Blood” is. I’m not particularly young, nor spoiled (although I have had a middle class upbringing), and I don’t think anyone I know would call me “giggly.” But, you are free to still hate this. That’s fine.
    Also, feel free to get your own blog and create your own journalism that you feel is good. I always find that a better solution than knocking someone else’s work.

  24. collapse expand
    Amarishnu

    I think this post is interesting, but it misunderstands the factual trends involved in Section 8’s proliferation. As someone who works regularly with poor people who live outside of metropolitan Chicago, most Section 8 in the suburbs is concentrated in poor, working-class neighborhoods with high Hispanic and immigrant populations. It is certainly true that there are scattered experiments all over the city and the suburbs to put affordable housing in affluent, white neighborhoods, but this is not the dominant trend (nor even a significant one). The only broad exception to the rule is places like DeKalb that were traditionally more rural and white.
    Gentrification, the housing bubble, proliferation of Section 8, and dismantling CHA high-rises has led to three things: a very affluent and white urban core in Chicago, very very poor far south side and west sides, and satellites of poverty around in Chicago in former industrial towns (Joliet, Aurora, Waukegan, Rockford, Peoria, etc…).

  25. collapse expand

    Oh my goodness. Wow! Where to start? I’ll come back if I can get my head turned back right-side-up on my neck.

  26. collapse expand

    Thanks for linking to a wikipedia article I worked hard to help create. Almost all of the footnotes in that article are my work. The history of redlining and “sundown” towns are some of the biggest forces that shaped the urban and suburban landscape in America, yet few people know much about it.

    I do want to challenge the assumption that poverty always comes with crime. I think a lot of the crime in poor areas is the result of truly awful policing. Another big factor is depopulation. Empty houses and city blocks quickly become dangerous. When was NYC at its worst? When the population started to dip– the burned out blocks in the Bronx made crime and drug dealing easy.

    I live in the Bronx and, for a place packed with poor people, it is much safer now than 20 years ago even though there are more people. That’s all about increased population and better policing.

    In addition some crimes are exported from the suburbs to the city. Like drugs, the rates of drug usage are pretty much the same wherever you go– but the violent crime that comes with drugs is more focused in the city– some of the time I wonder if police make it worse with intensive undercover operations that can put innocent lives in danger. You never see those kinds of disruptive buts on college campuses even though there are plenty of drugs on campuses and plenty of petty drug dealer (students) who get their good from inner city neighborhoods then sell them to “friends” –

    Yet, cops tend to turn a blind eye to the drug trade outside of the ghetto.

  27. collapse expand

    “Thank you for inquiring about my mental state and my upbringing. How kind of you to be so caring as to ask.”

    “Thank you for your suggestion that I learn about the world…I appreciate your suggestion.”

    Were these supposed to sound sarcastic? That’s positioning yourself weakly. Or were you just being disingenuous? I don’t think you’re fooling anyone (except maybe yourself) that you enjoy being insulted (and I’d assess you with the ability to know when you’re being insulted) so these responses are merely making you sound a little nutty or to be more precise – phony.

    Also, why would you apologize for not knowing what “True Blood” (a TV show, maybe? See – I don’t know either and I’m not apologizing to anyone) is? An attempt at good manners? That goes above and beyond any sane level of manners. You’re just sounding really ditzy with all of the above. I think you know (but are trying to avoid) that you are being charged with narrow-minded thinking and a restricted scope of knowledge of the world, laced with a cloying-strength dose of political correctness (“although I’m not Hindu, so I probably shouldn’t throw that idea around.” – oh, come on – please) so why don’t you take it to heart instead of trying to deflect it with sarcasm or insincerity?

    As for the essence of your post and comments, I wouldn’t quite know where to start except that as far as I can see, you’re trying to group all Americans (just white ones – and those here before your ancestors in particular, maybe?) together in the likes of “we as Americans hurt one group of people for a long time…” (or did you really mean “we” as in you, me, your ancestors, mine too, and all current-day Americans and their forebears?) I don’t know how I can move forward when the starting point is “Americans” (as implied to be defined further more pointedly in a manner you haven’t quite delineated) and some large, shaping events in the evolution of our country that are not, to people other than you, the ONLY shaping events in our country as we sit here in 2010 rolling up our sleeves to deal with 2010 problems in 2010’s USA. I’ll continue to ponder it, though. I’m a little disheartened to read that people really think as you do, but I guess you’re just one of a bunch of similar thinkers just speaking up and saying so. I hope your expressed thoughts represent a way of thinking that is on the wane, though, not experiencing a resurgence (I’d think you were my 55-year-old sister in her kitchen wearing Birkenstocks while making bread and listening to NPR, if I didn’t know better.)

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    About Me

    I'm a journalist living in Chicago writing about poverty and public housing. I don't come from the streets - I grew up on a farm. But I'm passionate about urban issues and getting to know people who are completely different from me. I'm quirky, funny and friendly.

    I have this idea about journalism - that it should be approachable and less "newsy." I want my stories to make you laugh, cry and draw you in to neighborhoods and situations you don't deal with every day. I hate the broadcaster voice. I hate TV news. I hate the inverted pyramid. I love surprise. I love humor. I love people and telling their stories.

    In addition to being a journalist, I also teach dance for the Chicago Public Schools. I don't just do it for the money. I love children and love arts education. I'm also on the board of a new nonprofit dedicated to helping the underserved find jobs called Employing Hope. I write fiction, keep house, and am generally a renaissance woman.

    Follow me on twitter @mmcottrell.

    See my profile »
    Followers: 93
    Contributor Since: October 2009
    Location:Chicago