This afternoon, hundreds, if not thousands, of angry parents, teachers and their supporters will march on Daley Plaza to voice their opposition to Mayor Emanuel’s planned school closings — currently slated at 54, which would make it the largest school closing in the nation’s history. Today’s rally is the culmination of three days of marching ahead of the Board of Education’s vote on Wednesday.
That all of the school closings are taking place on the city’s South and West Sides — well, except for the two on the North Side — has prompted many of the mayor’s opponents to label him a racist for what they deem to be a flagrantly racist campaign against the city’s black and Latino neighborhoods.
While calling the mayor a racist may seem a bit much, it’s unfortunately dead on.
Admittedly, when Mayor Emanuel had his people come up with a list of schools to close, the motive wasn’t to target black and brown Chicagoans intentionally. The Rahminator didn’t order his minions to devise a plot that would lower the city’s education budget while simultaneously gutting black and brown neighborhoods.
What he did demand is that they do it in a way that wouldn’t affect the people who helped him win City Hall two years ago.
Sure, a lot of black and brown Chicagoans naively voted for Obama’s man back in 2011, but they’re not really the ones who put him behind the mayoral desk.
Emanuel became mayor of Chicago thanks to money — hella money, to be exact. And last I checked, black and brown people in Chicago don’t have a whole lot of it.
If race and class are said to be joined at the hip in America, then they make up a two-headed dragon in the city of Chicago. Race is class in Chicago.
So, though I’ll give Rahm the benefit of the doubt by saying that he isn’t targeting blacks and Latinos with his school closings, by targeting the lower classes — the classes that didn’t get him elected mayor — his school closings are inadvertently, but directly, racist.
Horace Mann once wrote, “Education … beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, — the balance-wheel of the social machinery.”
The planned school closings, concentrated in black and Latino neighborhoods, threaten to eliminate the only escape route from poverty that black and Latino kids have.
And in a city like Chicago — where the poor and colored masses are under the most vicious system of segregation since the 1950s, to the point where “poor” and “colored” are now synonymous — we need as much equalizing as we can get.
[Photo: tbfurman via Flickr]