Why should Kanye West be the mayor of Chicago?

Because Chicago is headed in the wrong direction and Mayor West could lead a movement to make it the best city in the world.

I don’t believe that Chicago is headed in the wrong direction.

Then you should probably support the current regime.

Chicago is probably headed in the wrong direction but I don’t really know how to explain what this direction is. Do you have a theory?

Let’s travel back in time to 1950. 

3.6 million people live in Chicago.

In 1960 the population declines by 70, 558.

By 1970 184,447 more people are gone.  

361,878 humans leave Chicago in the 70s.

221,341 depart during the 80s. 

By my math that’s 838,224 people gone.

What’s happening? Where did everyone go?

The American elite decided to create a new social order in the 50s

A portion of the American working class was offered federally subsidized houses, the promise of lifelong employment for men, and education and class advancement for their children. 

The Government built highways to connect the newly settlements to the cities.  Not all of the working class left for the suburban settlements because not everyone got offered the deal.

Why are you hesitating?

This part is hard. Between 1910 and 1970 a million humans moved from the south to Chicago.

There was no Jim Crow in Chicago, no systematic lynching, and the jobs paid better. The deal was still crooked.  Employers preferred to hire candidates considered “white.” This was affirmative action for those who were considered  “white” and it went on for a long time.

  The jobs available to those regarded as “black” were more dangerous, demeaning, and less secure.   Migrants from the south were forced to live in specific districts in the city.  The central region was called Bronzeville.

Here is how sociologists Horace Clayton and St. Claire Drake describe life at the corner of 47ththand South Park in their 1947 study Black Metropolis.

There is a continuous and colorful movement here - shoppers streaming in and out of stores, insurance agents turning in their collections at a funeral reporter; club reporters rushing into a newspaper office with their social notes; irate tenants filing complains with the office of Price Administration; job-seekers moving in and out of the United States Employment Office.

Today a picket line may be calling attention to the “unfair labor practices” of a merchant. Tomorrow a girl may be selling tags on a corner for a hospital or community house. The next day you will find a group of boys soliciting signatures to place a Negro on the All-Star football team. And always a beggar or two will be in the background - a blind man, cup in hand, tapping his way along, or a legless veteran propped up against the side of the building.

This is Bronzeville’s central shopping district, where rents are highest and Negro merchants compete fiercely with whites for the choicest commercial spots. A few steps away from the intersection is “the largest Negro-owned department store in America” attempting to challenge the older and more experienced white retail establishments across the street.

At an exclusive “Eat Shoppe” just off the boulevard you may find a Negro Congressman or ex-Congressman dining at your elbow, or former heavyweight champion Jack Johnson, beret pushed back on his head, chuckling at the next table; in the private dining room there may be a party of civic leaders, black and white, planning reforms.

The residents of Bronzeville were not invited to the new suburban settlements.  The Factories moved to the south and the west where there were no unions and labor was cheap. Daley’s regime cut a highway right through Bronzeville, knocked down blocks and blocks and called it “urban renewal.”

The Regime built big cheap concrete towers to house the displaced humans in.

In 1969 a Federal Court declared that Regime’s “projects” maintained racial segregation illegally, but it was too late then: the system has been set up. 

What does this have to do with Chicago today?

Many the kids of the original suburban settlers found the environment stifling. They moved back into the cities en masse.

The urban pioneers started in Old Town and moved north through Lincoln Park through Lakeview and, in the last decade, moved up the Milwaukee corridor through Wicker Park and Logan Square.

In order to make room the projects were knocked down and their residents dispersed across the city. Rents went up, humans got evicted, the neighborhoods changed. 

200,000 humans left Chicago between 2000 and 2010.  According to a Chicago Tribune’s article “The big story was the decline – roughly 180,000 – in the black population. Many African Americans left the area altogether, likely joining in a swelling reverse migration to the South”

The next vista of “development” is the South Side. The University of Chicago has started to acquire land one mile to the east of campus. 

What’s wrong with development?

Everything depends on what is developing.

If you believe that Chicago should be a relatively monocultural but seemingly nonracist elite working at various “creative” corporate and institutional environments while serviced by a racialized working class pushed further and further outside of the city then you can endorse the current development.

If you are “into” being ruled by the regime described here, then you can endorse the current development.

But there doesn’t seem to be any other option.

There is. Here is it how it could work.

I really do believe the world can be saved by design

K. West - Speech at Harvard University School at Design.

You got the power to let power go?

K. West - Power