Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder
Negative news reports about Chicago and its high crime rate have given people around the globe an unfavorable perception of the Windy City. These stories are usually the product of reporters that do not live within the city limits. That begs the question: “Shouldn’t the people who tell this city’s story live in the communities their stories represent?”
Chicago has an excellent downtown landscape of tall buildings and access to Lake Michigan. There are many places to visit and a wide variety of events to attend, but it is also one of America’s most frowned upon municipalities because of the city’s high crime rate and incessant violence. This negative perception is quite palpable throughout many of the stories that make their way into mainstream news channels and newspapers.
The fact of the matter is that most reporters who fashion negative news stories about Chicago have never stepped inside the Windy City’s, so-called, “out of control” streets. Oftentimes, news reporters write only about crime, making it seem as though all Chicago neighborhoods consist of nothing but poverty-stricken residents engaged in murder, robberies, and violence.
It is true that homicides have increased dramatically. The police department reported 762 homicides in 2016, an increase of 58 percent from the previous year. This statistic marks the deadliest period in two decades.
Segregation is also a large issue. Chicago is ranked in the top five most economically and racially segregated cities in the United States.
Many people around the world are curious as to what is “really” going on in Chicago. Reporters living outside the city fail to seek and report on positive stories that take place every day.
Positive News Ignored
Chicago’s population is very diverse representing many cultures and opportunities that lend themselves to making the city a great place to live.
China Town is near the south side of Chicago. The community offers residents and tourists the ability to explore and shop for cultural items such as Chinese slippers, robes, trinkets and bamboo plants. The National Museum of Mexican Art is situated within the Pilsen community and allows exploration of Mexican culture and traditions. These are just two examples of positive elements that celebrate the city’s diversity.
Those who live in the city see the negative firsthand, but they also see the positive, such as the number of students who graduate from high school or programs put in place to support the youth and empower them to steer clear of violence.
Studies showed a 73 percent graduation rate in 2014, but according to the Chicago Tribune, CPS reported that 20,438 students graduated in the 2015-2016 school year. That number reflects a steady increase locally and mirrors national trends.
Often missed by reporters is the fact that Chicago offers its residents many opportunities to succeed and has the necessary resources to effectively work toward equality among disparate socio-economic groups. These include but are not limited to schools, libraries, jobs for youth and adults, day care, transportation, apartments, health clinics, and a variety of exciting places to shop.
The Windy City has its challenges. However, the true essence of Chicago can best be described from the perspective of the people who live there. And for the most part, its residents might find it hard to imagine living in the sensationalized, one sided description they read or see in the mainstream news.
So don’t be surprised when a Chicagoan says, “The city of Chicago is a great place to live.” Just remember the old proverb repeated from time to time: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
Written by the Spring 2017 Class
Edited by D. Chandler and C. Milne
Featured Image Courtesy of Goodfreephoto_com’s Pixabay Page – Creative Commons License
Top Image Courtesy of Kevin Dooley’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License