Gawker is on a quest to determine the most racist city in America. Your contributions are vital to the cause. Please add your insights in the discussion system below. Or if you'd like to nominate another city please send an email here. Today... Chicago, IL.
City: Chicago, IL
Ethnic Breakdown: 45% White, 33% Black, 6% Asian, 29% Latino (NOTE: Percentages don't add up due to people marking themselves down as belonging to more than one race)
History of Racism:
• 1919: "The trigger for the riot was the drowning of Eugene Williams at the 298th street beach on a sweltering July afternoon. Eugene Williams was hit by a stone thrown by a white man on the breakwater. The man had been throwing rocks at the black boys in the water prior to hitting Eugene Williams, but when he was identified the police would not arrest him. Once the riot started, armed gangs roamed the street looking for people to kill."
• 1977: "Initially, the Nazis sought to march in a totally different community in Chicago, one with almost no Jewish population. But they were denied a permit. They then decided to march in Skokie in order to get publicity for their grievance. Indeed, the signs they planned to carry in Skokie did not say Bring Back the Holocaust, but White Free Speech and Free Speech for the White Man."
• "I hate Illinois Nazis."
Hear it from Chicagoans!
These people aren't just racists, they're goddamn geneaologists. The average Chicagoan isn't only capable of determining your ethnicity, they have your entire fucking family tree DOWN. I know that it's really rooted in neighborhoods, back when everybody came to Chicago and settled with folks who were similar to them, but boy has it spread.
Once, on the southside, I heard someone scream at a dude for being a "quarter-kike chalupa nigger". Now, there's a lot going on there; that person just ripped on another human being for having hispanic parentage, a Jewish grandparent, and somehow they were also insinuating that the person was black. Then I got a look at the individual he was yelling at, and by God, I think he may have been right.
Chicagoans will never mistake a Puerto Rican for a Mexican person, or a Korean for a Vietnamese person. They have all of the differences down, and they have a reason why they believe all of them are worthless. That's some in-depth hate. Also, if you're Polish, Italian, Irish, or Jewish, those Bear-loving assholes can tell what part of the old country or world your people came from. I was once informed at a street fair that I needed to take my limestone-chalk County Clare ass home before it got kicked, which my granddad confirmed.
I learned something that day. I've also been informed that California Armenians are different from Chicago Armenians in that Chicago Armenians can take a knife to the gut better... and neither of them can hold a candle to those goddamn Lithuanians, who are supposedly un-killable. All of that hate has to be exhausting, and even in some of the more reasonable people from the Windy City, it can stick. I've got a well-to-do, Bible-loving family member who's still never seen The Godfather, because fuck Sicilians, that's why.
If you're talking about racist people in cities, I'm sure you can do better (or worse). But if you're talking about the actual city, the physical fucking place, you have to go with Chicago. Not only has it been the most segregated city in the country for the better part of a century, it's designed to stay that way. Look at a map of the CTA. Sure, you can go straight into the Loop and straight home, but you have to take two busses and a train just to see a Korean guy on the way home from the grocery store.
When I worked as a bagboy at a grocery store, there was a white manager who worked there who, one day, offered to give me a ride home. He would start his car, then have to go back and set the alarm. When he got out of the car, he turned to me and said, "Don't take my car, OK?" It threw me off, but I figured he didn't mean it the way I heard it. Another day, another ride home and he says the same thing: "Don't take my car, OK?" Maybe he did this with everyone he gave a ride home to, but I had no way of knowing it. After the third time, i started walking the seven blocks to the nearest bus.
I was chased out of a park (along with another black friend) near the Catholic school I attended when the members of our class wanted to play softball. The rest of the team, you might guess, were all white and the park was in their neighborhood. Nothing was said between the guys who chased us out and us, but we all just knew this was about to happen.
Finally, as a young reporter with the city's prominent black newspaper, I was sent by my editor to do a "man on the street" interview type article. In Bridgeport. I went and stood on a corner, with nothing but white people as far as the eye can see, and everyone refused to talk to me, despite the fact that I immediately identified myself as a reporter. After a while, I glanced at the back of a bus stop bench and notices that someone had scrawled in marker: "Bridgeport Nigger Beaters", followed by a phone number.
I used to live in a Chicago neighborhood called Uptown, which is known for being very diverse. Even though homicides in the neighborhood aren't as bad as a lot of Chicago neighborhoods, friends refused to visit me out of fear of being shot because of "those people," a code I took to mean, "It scares me that your building is more ethnically diverse than my neighborhood." I also once went to the grocery store a block from my apartment and heard a twenty-something white man loudly complaining about the presence of Blacks and Hispanics in Uptown.