Is Black Chicago Slipping Away?

Some fret that African-American power is waning amid rising Hispanic economic clout.

Posted:
 
danny20davis
Rep. Danny Davis (Politico)

Bloomberg reports that U.S. Rep. Danny Davis is singing the blues -- literally -- about watching "black Chicago slip away" as Hispanics gain political power and economic clout in the city.

The 69-year-old politician used the words of Chicago blues legend Buddy Guy to sum up the situation: "While you're steppin' out, somebody else is steppin' in."

Some of the "steppin' out"/"stepping in" background cited in the article: Chicago has lost 17 percent of its black population in the past decade, according to the Census Bureau. Meanwhile, Hispanics gained 25,000, or 3.3 percent. Blacks now make up only 32.4 percent of Chicago residents and earn less and are more likely to live in poverty than Hispanics, who represent 30 percent of the city.

And, with demographics changing, Bloomberg reports that demographers and political analysts expected the past two rounds of redistricting to produce a "bloodbath" between blacks and Hispanics (although it didn't happen). Finally, Hispanics have been "strengthening their financial position at a faster pace than blacks" and have a reportedly stronger "sense of nationalism."

In light of all this, the piece wraps up with Davis' assessment in the form of the Righteous Brothers classic, "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling": "Gone, gone, gone," Bloomberg reports he "sang in his baritone voice."

While the shifting demographics of the city are interesting -- and, yes, significant -- for the black community, we have to wonder about the choice to tell the story in a sentimental way that frames black and Latino relations as a winner-takes-all game. The problems that the two groups face aren't caused by each other.

In fact, shouldn't shared issues like low socioeconomic status, unequal rates of incarceration, police brutality and other inequalities be the basis for political alliances versus competition? The numbers are what they are, but we think they call for a nuanced conversation about how both communities can do better -- not just singing the blues.

Read more at Bloomberg.

Like The Root on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

Comments
The Root encourages respectful debate and dialogue in our commenting community. To improve the commenting experience for all our readers we will be experimenting with some new formats over the next few weeks. During this transition period the comments section will be unavailable to users.

We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your continued support of The Root.

While we are experimenting, please feel free to leave feedback below about your past experiences commenting at The Root.