A Letter to Trump: Divestment vs. Investment
Dear Mr. Trump,
Chicago is a global city, and if anyone knows that, it would most certainly be you; a man who owns prime real estate in one of the world’s most appealing locations for tourists, and business professionals. There is an elephant in the room though; there has been a stark contrast in the divestment versus investment when assessing the micro economies that clearly exist within this city. That could very well be a bit of the brush that was ignited when your campaign was disrupted in this very city. No apologies are in line for the actions of my brothers and sisters of this struggle that you can never understand; you can only learn to empathize with the plight of African descendants within this country. Though I don’t hold all the same values, and thought processes of my fellow activists, I do stand in solidarity with their dedication to fight injustice with proportionate force. With that said, I do believe in your claim to have an agenda to bring America into its full potential of being the greatest nation, not only on the planet, but the greatest nation that we can become. Enough small talk, as I’m sure you have a lot of work to do; Chicago’s Public School system is a bridge built on sand, and that sand is Rahm Emmanuel, City Counsel, Barbara Byrd-Bennet, our long-standing clergymen with political affiliation, and the perspective of the American people that this problem is isolated, or unable to be corrected.
In 2013, my elected officials closed a record breaking 48 schools at one time; the largest scale school closing ever in U.S. history. The decision to devastate 12,000 elementary school students was blamed on a $1 Billion deficit brought on by decades of misappropriated funds, and a scandal that placed an interesting criminal light on our prior mayor. We understand how a deficit could call for the need to bring expenses lower than income, but what we don’t comprehend is why every social and economic experiment in this country has to be conducted at the expense of the quality of life of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens; minorities specifically, and moderate-low to very-low income families. If you’re inquiring as to why I’m crying over spilled milk; well, because that now spoiled milk is being force fed to us as yogurt, and it smells bad.
In May of this year, the city began a quest to acquire an old post office location, and they proposed plans to transform that location into a new middle school. The project in total will cost $55 Million, and $11 Million in Tax Increment Funding (TIF) has been allocated to this project, that will benefit families within close proximity to the southern outskirts of the downtown area; an area comprised of mostly middle income families, and high income families that were able to survive the gentrification efforts pushed following the demolition of Chicago’s public housing project buildings (i.e. Cabrini Green Housing Projects). This is a concern of the African American community, because we have continually been forced to watch the spoils of us being robbed, being redistributed to those who didn’t need the resources in the first place.
Contrary to popular belief, the African American community has no desire to continue to exist as a welfare community; one dependent upon foreign businesses and investors. We have no desire to dwell on where blame for our economic enslavement should be placed; we are clear on how we got to this position, but more importantly aware and ready to take the steps to bring us out of our social and economic incarceration. We understand that you have no authority to intervene in locally approved plans for development, but we do have a request.
Please redirect 30% of Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and ecenomic development dollars to grassroots organizations and small businesses within their respective communities, the very organizations and businesses that create the micro-economic changes that “We the People” desire to see.
We would like to see a national effort to redirect CRA and economic development monies into a community controlled mechanism. Our community is in dire need of small business investment plan that acknowledges the disparities in capital, credit, and collateral that has been created by a long-existing system of oppression (relative barriers of entry into business). What we are really requesting is a small business startup and stimulus package that will help create healthy and self-sustainable communities; a major and bold push towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030.
City of Chicago: Tax Increment Financing . (2016, September 14). Retrieved December 23, 2016, from City of Chicago: https://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dcd/provdrs/tif/news/2016/july/tif-proposed-for-new-south-loop-elementary-school.html
Jr., J. P. (2015, January 22). Study looks at aftermath of Chicago school closings in 2013. Chicago Tribune.
Marisa de la Torre, M. F. (2015). Schools Closings in Chicago: Understanding Familie’s Choices and Constraints for New School Enrollment . Chicago: University of Chicago.
Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah, J. C. (2013, May 23). CPS approves largest school closure in Chicago’s history. Chicago Tribune.