I happened to sit down at a dining hall table in the middle of a conversation about where people might live next year. The boy turned to me, thought for a few seconds, and said while giggling, “You should live at 39th and King Drive!”
“Yeah,” a girl added. “And you could open a halfway house there!”
Hmm. If my knowledge of Chicago geography serves me correctly, 39th and King is in Bronzeville. I wasn’t quite sure what the girl was implying, but I got the feeling that they wouldn’t find it nearly as amusing to suggest that I move to Lincoln Park or Wicker Park and open a halfway house. I opted to reply that Bronzeville was not in fact merely a repository for unreformed criminals.
“I know,” said the girl defensively. “I actually know a lot about Bronzeville, because I’m taking a class on it.”
A class can only get you so far. While I’m not going to pretend that Chicago’s South Side doesn’t have any problems, it’s a little bit disturbing when some of my classmates think that it is some kind of dystopia filled with crackhouses and muggers. This is by no means a common problem. Nevertheless, I am never quite sure how to respond when they express horror at the idea of going south of 61st Street or having to take the Green Line. It should be self-evident that thousands of Chicagoans manage to do just that, and life goes on as usual.
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