It purports to tell the story of Chicago's... current climate, through the approved lens of the DWL microscope . Early in the book, Mr. Sampson tells the story of the nearly 99% black South Side of Chicago and the type of community black people created there. It's... jarring:
This, this is the type of community black migrants from the south created in Chicago. In fact, this is the world that is created in the absence of white people, though it is the redistributed tax dollars collected from white people that funded the Robert Taylor Homes in Chicago.Further down Michigan Avenue between about 35th and 47th Streets in the communities of Douglas and then Grand Boulevard, the scene is jarringly different. The transformation of the Near South has given way to what sociologists traditionally called the “slum.” In a walk down Michigan Avenue in 2006 I saw what appeared to be a collapsing housing project to the left, broken glass in the street, vacant and boarded-up buildings, and virtually no people. Those I observed were walking quickly with furtive glances. On my walk in 2006 and again in early 2007, no whites were to be found and no glimmering city parks were within sight. The cars were beat up and there was little sign of collective gatherings or public activity, save perhaps what appeared to be a drug deal that transacted quickly. Yet even here there were stirrings of change, symbolized most dramatically by vacant lots to the west of where there once stood hulking and decaying projects built expressly to contain the city’s black poor.
In fact, the South Side of Chicago once housed the most infamous slum in America. Chicago showed it knew how to build not just skyscrapers but spectacular high-rises for the poor; the Robert Taylor Homes alone once held over twenty-five thousand residents–black, poor and isolated, outdoing Cabrini Green, another national symbol of urban despair. As described by the Chicago Housing Authority itself, Robert Taylor apartments were “arrayed in a linear series of 28 16-story high-rises, which formed a kind of concrete curtain for traffic passing by on the nearby Dan Ryan Expressway.”34 The wider neighborhood of the projects—“Bronzeville,” as it was named by St. Clair Drake and Horace R. Cayton in Black Metropolis—became infamous as one of the most dangerous and dispossessed in the country in the latter half of the twentieth century.35 Yet in a short ten-year span the Robert Taylor Homes have been demolished (literally, blown up with dynamite) and former residents scattered throughout the metropolitan area. The tragic mistake of designed segregation became too much for even the Chicago City Council to ignore. Officially recognized as a failed policy, the last building of Robert Taylor was closed at the end of 2006.
I visited the area in March 2007 after the last building was destroyed. It was eerily quiet as I paused to contemplate and observe vast open spaces where grinding poverty once reigned amid families making the best they could out of an unforgiving environment. An especially haunting reflection came to mind, a visit in 1992 to the Robert Taylor Homes in the same exact block. Passing inoperable metal detectors and walking up urine-stenched stairs because the elevators were broken, the physical signs of degradation were overwhelming. Yet a group of us entered an apartment that was immaculate, where we met two single mothers who told a story of survival and determination to see a better day. Both of their sons had been murdered and they had knitted a quilt with one-foot by one-foot squares honoring every other child who had also been murdered in the projects. The unfurled quilt extended nearly the length of the room. Shaken, I remember thinking at the time that surely anything would be an improvement over the prison-like towers. On this spot one sees almost a verdant green expanse, with downtown far in the distance (fig. 1.1). The “problem” is now out of sight and for many, including city leaders, out of mind. (p. 9)
Charlton Heston wrote about the conditions in the almost exclusively black Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) homes in this early 2000, "The Courage to Be Free." The high rates of gun violence in the CHA homes produced a black population willing to give up their 2nd Amendment rights to be free of said gun crime:
A remarkable episode took place a couple of years ago in a multidwelling unit of the Chicago Housing Authority. Fearing violence among drug traffickers, the Housing Authority unilaterally banned ownership of the firearms by any occupant for any reason. To enforce the rule, they began to conduct unannounced, door-to-door, warrantless searches randomly throughout the projects to find and collect guns in supposed violation of their gun ban. President Clinton, of course, endorsed the idea.
But to me, the real jaw-dropper wasn't the blatantly unconstitutional kick-in-the-door presumption of guilt by the law enforcement of of authorities. It was the fact that, when polled, the majority of the housing project occupants agreed to permit this infringement of their rights.
They were willing to give up their constitutional freedom from unreasonable, warrantless search and seizure, and surrender the privacy of their personal property and effects, in return for what they perceived to be Big Brother taking care of them. (p. 77)Let these two stories of life on the South Side of Chicago and in the almost exclusively black CHA homes set in when you encounter this tale of woe -- the trauma desert that is the South Side of Chicago.
Trauma Desert, you ask, Monsieur Kersey?
You see, black people on the South Side of Chicago shot each other with such reckless abandon that the University of Chicago trauma center had to close up shop in 1988 -- because black people never paid their bills [A Death Sparks a Demand for Care, New York Times, 10-2-10]:
A few weeks shy of his 19th birthday, Damian Turner, a charismatic youth advocate and aspiring musician, was gunned down in a drive-by shooting on Aug. 15 — four blocks from one of the best hospitals in the world, the University of Chicago Medical Center in Hyde Park.
But rather than rush the gravely wounded teenager there, Chicago Fire Department paramedics were required to drive him to the nearest Level 1 trauma center, which was more than nine miles across the city at Northwestern Memorial Hospital on the northern edge of downtown. Mr. Turner was pronounced dead less than 90 minutes after the bullet ripped into his back.
“It would have taken about a minute in a vehicle to get Damian to the U. of C. hospital,” his mother, Sheila Rush, said the other day, as she prepared to join a march protesting what she said was a gaping hole in the city’s emergency health care system. “My sweet baby could still be alive today if the U. of C. had a trauma center. It’s just down the street.”
There are no trauma centers for adults on Chicago’s South Side, where there are pockets with high rates of violence, including drive-by shootings. Trauma patients on the city’s Far South Side are usually taken to the busy unit at Advocate Christ Medical Center in suburban Oak Lawn, more than 10 miles from where Mr. Turner was shot.
“I would really like to see another trauma center on the South Side,” said Leslee Stein-Spencer, the fire department’s manager of medical administration and regulatory compliance. “We believe it is needed. It would definitely help with our transport and response time. There’s only so much paramedics can do in the back of an ambulance.”
There are four adult trauma centers in the city, Northwestern and Advocate Illinois Masonic Hospital on the North Side and Mount Sinai Hospital Medical Center and the John H. Stroger Hospital of Cook County on the West Side.
Officials at individual hospitals decide whether to have a trauma center, which must meet certification requirements, particularly involving staffing and training. “There used to be a lot more in the city,” Ms. Stein-Spencer said.
But treating trauma — victims of shootings, stabbings, car crashes and other accidents — is highly specialized and expensive. Level 1 trauma centers are staffed with 16 medical specialists, like brain surgeons and orthopedic experts, 24 hours a day.
Nationally, only 10 percent of hospitals have trauma units, and a mere 200 of those have Level 1 units for the most severe and complicated injuries, said Connie Potter, president of the Trauma Center Association of America, a group that advocates for more government financing of the trauma-care system.
“Trauma centers have been in financial difficulties for years,” Ms. Potter said. “But how much is a life worth? Our saying is nobody really cares unless they’re face down in a ditch. Then all of a sudden having a trauma center is a priority.”
Many trauma victims are young, poor and uninsured, or otherwise unable to pay, Ms. Potter said. Trauma cases often bump and postpone elective surgeries, “which is what hospitals make their money on,” she said.
The University of Chicago, which had one of the busiest trauma centers in the state, got out of trauma care in 1988, largely because of costs.
“We drew the entire South Side,” said John Easton, a spokesman for the medical center. “That became overwhelming. It put an enormous strain on the hospital.”
The hospital continues to operate a trauma center for children 16 and under because, Mr. Easton said, “we felt a greater obligation to help children.”
Tuesday would have been Mr. Turner’s 19th birthday. But instead of ice cream and cake, his mother choked down another day’s worth of grief along with some pills for her weak heart. Then — her breathing labored, her legs aching — she slowly followed a march of about 100 friends, neighbors and university students from the corner where her son was shot, through the streets of Woodlawn and Hyde Park, ending near the entrance to the medical center.
The marchers chanted, “U. of C. is whack, bring the trauma center back.” And “How can you ignore, we’re dying at your door?”
The march concluded close to where the hospital is building a $700 million pavilion.The hospital has "blood-stained hands?" Wouldn't the black community responsible for the incredibly high rates of violence, sending black people to the trauma center in need of medical care, have "blood on their hands"?
“This hospital has blood-stained hands,” the Rev. Andre Smith, the pastor who officiated at Mr. Turner’s funeral, said in an angry and anguished prayer at the protest. Mr. Turner was shot in the back around midnight near the corner of 61st Street and Cottage Grove Avenue, a violent patch of the city plagued by a longtime feud between rival street gangs.
No... black people can never be blamed for any problems in Black-Run America (BRA).
What do those almost exclusively black gang problems in Chicago look like for trauma centers around the city?
Hell. And perhaps the greatest waste of resources in the history of medicine [Trauma Centers Feel Gang Fallout, 3-3-92, Chicago Tribune]:
As the violence of Chicago`s gang and drug wars spills into the suburbs, suburban and children`s trauma centers are being forced to develop new skills to deal with crime-related stabbings and shootings.
Increased staff, new training and heightened security precautions needed are costly, and at least one Chicago hospital may try to shift some of the most troublesome patients elsewhere, experts at a trauma workshop said Monday. Doctors at suburban trauma centers, who are used to treating the blunt trauma of automobile accidents and until recently seldom saw gunshot wounds, now must treat people who have been shot three or more times, and often get several victims of the same shooting at once.
That means having two or three operating rooms staffed around the clock and hiring more emergency medicine physicians and trauma nurses and surgeons, the experts said.
The workshop was presented by the trauma committee of the American College of Surgeons at the Chicago Medical Society`s Midwest Clinical Conference at the Fairmont Hotel in Chicago.
``Drugs, guns and gangs are the recurrent theme in these injuries,`` said Richard Fantus, director of the trauma center at Illinois Masonic Medical Center. ``We are seeing the third stage of gang development here, which is kill for business, not for gang pride.``
Nearly 63 percent of gunshot wound victims at Children`s Memorial Hospital in 1991 were 14 to 16 years old and were involved in a crime, said Marletta Reynolds, director of Children`s pediatric trauma center.
That is a dramatic shift from 1986 when 72 percent of gunshot victims were children under 14 who were accidentally shot. The increase is due to the increased number of teenagers shot in gang fights, Reynolds said.
``One 15-year-old was shot in the chest. Six gang members went to visit him on the surgical floor in full gang regalia, and when security asked them to leave, they scattered into other patients` rooms. It took us two hours to get them out of the hospital.``What a waste of resources, when you consider the words of Mr. Sampson from the first part of this essay and the type of community black people created in the CHA homes on the South Side of Chicago, particularly in the now demolished Robert Taylor Homes.
Why bring any of this up? It seems four people were recently arrested for protesting the "trauma desert" on the South Side of Chicago, attacking the University of Chicago Hospital for not opening one wing to deal with... traumatic situations created on a daily basis by the black citizens of the South Side.
In reading all that you've read here, particularly the words of Robert Sampson, why should anyone care about the conditions of South Side of Chicago -- be it the refusal to allow the citizens of the CHA to have 2nd Amendment rights or the closure of trauma centers due to the exorbitant costs?
"Guns, Blacks, and Steel: The Fate of American Cities" is an idea that goes far beyond our ideas of constitutional government. It means dealing with the primary problem that threatens to destabilize our society.
Robert Sampson, in all of his DWL verbiage, knows the truth. The problem may be "out of sight" (with the demolishing of the CHA housing), but it's present.