Rhetoric 105, Section B4
6 December 2012
The Effects of Race on the city of Chicago
Chicago has been known for its violence. Many claim that it is due to class while others think it is due to race. Research of gangs typically does not include the role of race, though a closer look at gangs in Chicago tells a story of hatred between races. Frederic Thrasher, an experienced sociologist of gang research, followed Robert Park, a noted liberal and leader of the Chicago Urban League, in arguing that gangs were the problem of violence in the city and not race. Park says “gangs” came from the “city wilderness” without regard to race, creed, or color. Park along with Thrasher are both wrong since it is because of race that the prevalent amount of gangs in Chicago formed. Race for Park was just another variable, declining in significance with modernization. Racial inequalities could best be explained by class, family and employment patterns, and other economically-based factors. The Chicagoans, early and late, have been hampered by this nonracial ecological theory. This theory becomes apparent with a closer look at the history of Chicago's gangs. The history of Chicago's gangs reflects the traditional factors of immigration, poverty, or social disorganization; at the same time, reveal the centrality of race to the Chicago gang experience. In the beginning of the 20th century, immigrants and migrants came to Chicago in groups and would usually stay in the same neighborhood together. The main ethnic groups, African Americans, the Irish, Italians, and Poles, underwent the same process of transition into their new city, Chicago; however, it was a differently big adjustment for African Americans. Because many immigrants and migrants would prefer to stay in the same neighborhoods of their own race, they segregated themselves. Not only did immigrants want to stay with their same race, but the city especially wanted to keep the African American people segregated. According to Anon “realtors and businessmen put together a black-belt reconstruction plan and suggested the appointment of an interracial committee to ‘develop a plan whereby one section of the city be given exclusively to colored people’” (17). In particular, it was the “social athletic clubs” (SACs) in Chicago that enforced African Americans in the “black belt”, a term, as historian Thomas Philpott said, that was used to mean the secluded ghetto of African Americans (568). As for the Irish, Italians, and Poles being segregated, John Hagedorn states they were “gradually integrated into the broader economy, and moved into more prosperous zones of the city, shedding their traditions as they assimilated” (195). These ethnicities added to the melting pot of diversity in America with a much easier time than African Americans. In 1930, nine out of every ten African Americans lived in areas that were at least 80 percent black. As I mentioned before Robert Park does not believe that race is the cause violence in Chicago, but that is because he never knew about the corruption of politics in Chicago. People in power and influence were the mainly Irish “voting gangs”. According to John Hagedorn, “These white gangs or ‘social athletic clubs’ (SACs) were organizations sponsored by politicians to provide boys and young men of the streets with ‘recreation’” (196). At the time of the 1920s, Thrasher approximated 250 gangs were in Chicago. SACs were a way for immigrants and migrants to be protected while local politicians could count on the vote of the gangs or as mentioned before - the voting gangs. Chicago's SACs was a way for politicians to ensure their victory for re-election. For many young Irish, Italian, and Polish, SACs were a way to make a living because many were receiving jobs. These ethnic groups were becoming firemen, policemen, or sometimes they were joining the campaign of politicians.
While ethnic groups like the Irish, Italians, and Poles gained...
Bibliography: Adam Cohen and Elizabeth Taylor, American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard J. Daley. His Battle for Chicago and the Nation (Boston, MA, 2000).
Anon. (1917), ‘Negroes Offer Housing “Swap” with Whites’, Chicago Daily
Tribune, 10 April, p. 17.
Hagedorn, John. RACE NOT SPACE: “A Revisionist History of Gangs in Chicago”. Journal of African American History Vol. 91 Issue 2 (Spring 2006): 194-208. Web. 6 Nov. 2012
Philpott, Thomas Lee. The Slum and the Ghetto: Neighborhood Deterioration and Middle-Class Reform, Chicago, 1880–1930. 1978.
Robert Park, introduction to Frederic Thrasher, The Gang: A Study of 1313 Gangs in Chicago (Chicago,1927), xi
Silver, Christopher. The Racial Origins of Zoning in American Cities
The Chicago Commision on Race Relations. The Negro in Chicago. The University of Chicago Press
Timuel Black, "The History of African American Gangs in Chicago" Chicago Gang Research Project; http://panpresearch.neVChicaEoGangs/gangs&ghetto/TimuelBlackx.html ( '2000 ').
Please join StudyMode to read the full document