Scott Hardie | April 25, 2002
Last week in my sociology class, we watched a "Dateline NBC Special Report" on race in America, specifically on suburban neighborhoods becoming black. The focus was on Matteson, a southern Chicago suburb that twenty years ago got its first black residents, and is now about 50% black. For every one white family that wants to move in, there were 26 black families, according to research by Matteson's realtors.

The black people on camera were reasonable. The only time one of them became unreasonable was when Tom Brokaw (the host) asked a black resident if he would be all right with his daughter dating a white man. He was taken aback and then smiled at being caught, and said it would make him uneasy.

On the other hand, the majority of the white people on camera were embarrassingly ignorant. They all claimed not to be racists, while they explained their very negative, stereotypical, and unfair views about black people. Some white Matteson residents who were leaving, and some of the ones who had already left, were interviewed about why they left. They said that crime was escalating. (The police chief said that crime was staying even, and Matteson had 3% crime while most Chicago suburbs have 8-9%.) They said that property values were falling. (In fact, overall property values had gone up 40% in the nineties, when most of the influx took place.) They said that the quality of education had gone down. (Standardized test scores at the Matteson high school were a little down, but the entire country's were down as well.) Rarely were these people confronted on camera about their ignorant views, and when they were, they just said they believed it and didn't need numbers or facts.

It's a shame, of course. Property values usually do fall in these situations - not because of black people moving in, but because of white people rapidly moving out. White people are in such a hurry to leave that they sell their homes cheap, which allows a lower economic class to enter the neighborhoods, which causes even more affluent people to leave. The white people cited the example of Roseland, a former middle-class white suburb that is now black and very poor, but it's white flight that caused Roseland to happen.

I hope that I and the rest of my generation, growing up in a PC era, will not make these same mistakes. Soon I'll temporarily move in with my mother, who lives across the street from a black family, and there is a Jewish family on either side of her. She doesn't seem to mind, and I certainly don't. Will things be different when I settle in a less affluent neighborhood? I really hope not. I want my kids to grow up in an integrated school district like I didn't. I want them to date outside of their race like I didn't. In the end, I want them to marry someone they love, but I'd be overjoyed if they married people who weren't white.

I think that's the solution. It's really the last racial taboo. Even people who are very open-minded, like the black residents of Matteson, draw the line there. When we allow our sons and daughters to marry outside of their race, and to have children of mixed race, our racial issues will disappear, because there won't be anybody left to hate. The movie Bulworth was a steaming pile of shit, but it did have one good line: "Let's all fuck each other until we're all the same color."


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