Is Chicago finally on the path to integration?

HOLD FOR STY MOVING MARCH 2 In this Feb. 23, 2017 photo, students work on a project in teacher Annika Edgerson's third-grade classroom at the Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in Hartford, Conn. In the years since a desegregation order, Hartford has collected accolades nationally as a school choice success story. Yet while its magnet schools are celebrated for raising the bar academically and bringing together kids from the suburbs and the city, roughly half the students in Connecticut’s poor capital city remain in schools that are moving in the opposite direction. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

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A new episode of WBEZ’s Curious City takes a look at the current level of Chicago’s segregation.

RELATED: Low Income Housing Developments May Be Contributing to Segregation

The theme for the episode was proposed by Albany Park resident Linda Dausch.

Growing up in the Boston area, Dausch moved to Chicago in 1993 and currently works at the Harold Washington Library, which she says is a diverse workplace.

But the arts advocate said she finds her coworkers of different races heading to “their” parts of the city after clocking out.

Produced in partnership with City Bureau, this particular WBEZ report was optimistically titled “Is Notoriously Segregated Chicago Becoming More Integrated?” – a title that may be getting ahead of what is really happening.

According to census data, Chicago is becoming “slightly less segregated” compared to rates of the early 1990s, but there should be some emphasis on the word “slightly.”

Reporter Adeshina Emmanuel examined both data and personal experiences from his own upbringing in Uptown and moving to the seemingly-integrated community of Ashburn on the Southwest Side:

“Uptown was and is, on paper at least, a diverse neighborhood,” Emmanuel said in an interview. “But diversity doesn’t necessarily add up to integration. It doesn’t mean people interact socially in parks, restaurants, churches or even if they live on the same blocks.”

He found similar stories in Ashburn, which is a majority black residential area, mixed with a substantial Latino and white population.

But even if the percentages of racial breakdown are closer to each other than other Chicago neighborhoods, there are still “informal geographic boundaries,” like Pulaski Avenue, which, figuratively, separate different cultures.

While there might not be an answer to Curious City’s or Dausch’s questions about Chicago becoming more integrated, neighborhoods are slowly but surely becoming more diverse.

This could mean we are potentially on the path to more racial integration.

RELATED: How government-sponsored segregation helped fuel the Baltimore riots

The next episode of Curious City will look at a similar topic with the loss of Chicago’s Japanese neighborhood, originally rooted in Lakeview.

What do you think?

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