Are They Really Afraid Of Black People?

Last week, during my zoom birthday lunch, I mentioned that there are way too many coyotes wandering around Palatine these days, and how I saw a full-grown coyote on the bike path, and he was not afraid of people. I mentioned that people are concerned that coyotes attack dogs and that I agree there are too many of them around.

Vlad suddenly said very sharply: good! If people are afraid of coyotes, they might decide that coyotes are more dangerous than black people and decide to move to the city.

I was like: Vlad, what are you talking about?! People are not afraid of blacks! Vlad: they do! They just do not say it! Look, people are saying they are afraid to get on the CTA, and if you ask them why they would be: I am afraid of people on the CTA. And if you keep pressing, it would be – they are afraid of blacks. I tried to protest, but then all of them (my kids, I mean) told me that I am an exception, and all other people who live in the burbs think differently.

I told them that I do not think I am an exception and that more of my co-workers live in the city than in the burbs. But in the next several days following this conversation, I had several encounters that proved Vlad’s point.

One of my younger co-workers reacted at the Sanders on the CTA mem on Slack and said that “he has not been on CTA since March, and is not looking forward to it”. And I chose not to ask why. Which I probably should. Then, when I talked with my neighbor, she told me about her granddaughter who will teach in the city and is going to live in the city, and she (my neighbor) thinks it’s not safe. I shook my head, and she asked: you disagree? But it’s not safe! Give it some time for things to settle down.

And the next day, there was a conversation with my other younger co-worker about renting in Chicago, with the same question: is this neighborhood safe?

I tried to answer in detail, explaining that “safe” is a rather relative term, and you should know how to operate in each neighborhood, and giving lots of examples. And do not take me wrong, I agree that young people moving to the city should do their homework and research the neighborhoods’ specifics, safety, and everything. But … I do not even know how to describe it, but sometimes I can hear that these young people were instructed by adults who know nothing about the city except that it is “unsafe.” And I hate when people come to Chicago (not now but in normal times) “just for work,” and do not know anything except for the way to their office, and never try to explore anything else. Because everything outside the Loop is “unsafe.”

Not like I can do anything with this situation. But I feel very sad and annoyed with it…

3 thoughts on “Are They Really Afraid Of Black People?

  1. This is so American! This is like all the reality show and series about real estate, where they alwsys mention “safe neiborhoods “. Here in Finland this very word is saldo used when describing areas. One speaks of poor, rich, strange, weird, nice looking or dull, but by default, it is assumed they are safe. However, even when thinking of the US, I never thought of safety being racial issue, rather some local unwritten code of behaviour. On our trip to San Francisco ages ago we were advised to avoid hotels in a certain part of the city as “it is not a safe district” and so we did. When walking around, I actually found that area much nicer than where we eventually lived..

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      1. Precisely. It’s an unfortunate reality that there are more safe and less safe neighborhoods, there are neighborhoods where parents don’t allow their children o play outside because they might be shot. And ghat’s a deep systemic problem which can’t be easily solved. However, the situation when people say blatantly: I am afraid to take CTA (public transportation in Chicago, includes L-trains and buses), because there may be blacks on board outrage me. My sweet neighbor said during that conversation about her granddaughter: she is trying to be close to the train (she meant Metra), and if she can’t she will drive, but she won’t take CTA.

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