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Circulate and Grow

March 01, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Ecology, Economy, Pancho McFarland

From the War on Poverty to the Revolution in the Garden

by Pancho McFarland

I teach a “Class and Stratification” course for the Sociology Program at Chicago State University.  In the course we focus on inequality, the global capitalist economic system, critiques of it and examinations of alternative economic systems.  We examine the problems of inequality caused by the capitalist economy and then focus on our city, Chicago, as a means to understand our places in the economy as working class people of color.  To learn about ourselves in Chicago I use a text written by the Chicago Grassroots Curriculum Taskforce.  The book, Urban Renewal or Urban Removal? is volume one of a planned eight.  Authors of the text include activists, teachers, parents, long-time residents and professors.  It is a grassroots bunch of dedicated organic intellectuals.  (more…)

A People Rise

January 23, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Family, Robert C. Koehler

Beyond Our Broken Dreams

by Robert C. Koehler

Every night gunshots lullaby me to sleep
In ruins of abandoned buildings
the broken glass is
where we bottle up all our broken dreams….

Hold the dream with me, as it breaks loose from Jameale Pickett’s poem. Something beyond the insane dance of crime and punishment is happening, at least this year, this moment, in Chicago’s high schools. Young people are getting a chance to excel and become themselves, as more and more schools find and embrace common sense, also known as restorative justice.

The funding is fragile, precarious, but some schools in struggling communities are figuring out how to break the school-to-prison pipeline, even though the system as a whole remains wrapped up in suspensions, expulsions, zero tolerance and racism.

“The Obama administration on Wednesday urged school officials to abandon unnecessarily harsh suspension and expulsion practices that appear to target black students,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported recently. (more…)

Riding Stylishly

November 20, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Economy, Jay Walljasper

Do Bike Lanes Promote Gentrification?

by Jay Walljasper

While African-Americans comprise the fastest growing demographic of bicyclists, doubling from 2001 and 2009 according to U.S. Department of Transportation data, bike lanes proposed for African-American neighborhoods in several cities have drawn controversy.

There are widespread feelings in some African-American communities that bike lanes are the opening act of gentrification, says Adrian Lipscomb, a bicycle project coordinator for the city of Austin, Texas who is writing a Ph.D. dissertation on African-Americans and biking. One woman in the historically African-American neighborhood of East Austin told Lipscomb: “When the bikes came in, the blacks went out.” However, Census data shows the percentage of the population that was white in the neighborhood increased only one percentage point between 2000 and 2009, while the percentage that was Latino climbed eight. (The numbers of Latinos biking in the United States rose nearly 50 percent between 2000 and 2009, compared to 22 percent for whites. Whites and Latinos now bike at the same level.) (more…)

Bike Lanes to Somewhere

October 24, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Jay Walljasper

On Race, Health, and Equity

by Jay Walljasper

Rev. Kenneth Gunn’s ministry at Chicago’s Bread of Life Church encompasses both the Bible and bicycles. He organized a bike club that regularly rides from the South Side church to Lake Michigan and along the Lakefront Trail. In his spare time, Gunn repairs donated bikes that he gives to kids in the predominantly African-American neighborhood.

Rev. Gunn believes biking offers great benefits to the community. “Besides good recreation, biking is economical,” the 70-year-old minister explains, especially in a city where many people don’t own cars and transit fares are rising. “But health is the number one reason to ride a bike. It’s good for your coronary, your respiratory and your blood pressure. And I find it’s good for my arthritis.”

Gunn welcomes the new protected bike lanes popping up across Chicago’s South Side as a way to encourage more African-Americans to bike. “The city is becoming more and more bike friendly. The new lanes on 55th Street are super-safe and I love it.” (more…)

Stop Stop-and-Frisk

August 20, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

From Outside Occupation to Community Engagement

by Robert C. Koehler

Stopping crime before it happens is a great idea, but stopping young men for “walking while black” — touted by true believers as the same thing — is a game played by an occupying army.

The tactic is called stop-and-frisk. As practiced by many police departments, including New York’s, it amounts to blatant racial profiling. Stop-and-frisk makes it impossible for young men of color to lead normal lives, to walk outside without fear of preemptive police harassment. The long-term hatred and tension it engenders does far more harm to a community than all the questionable good that proponents ascribe to it. Security based on racism is a sham. (more…)

Love Crowds Out Fear

August 09, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Guest Author, Politics

On Trayvon Martin and the George Zimmerman Verdict

by Valerie Elverton Dixon

I waited. My tears waited…

In March 2012 when the story of Trayvon Martin’s murder became national news, I waited to comment. Like those who took to the streets in hoodies, I could not understand how George Zimmerman could shoot and kill an unarmed teenager who was simply walking home from the store, be taken into custody by the police, and then go home to sleep in his own bed the same night without being charged with a crime.  Zimmerman told the police that he acted in self defense, and that was enough. Trayvon Martin’s family had to hire a lawyer and the lawyers had to contact national civil rights leaders before a prosecutor brought charges. I did not comment.

Trayvon Martin’s parents said they had faith in the criminal justice system. They wanted a trial. The trial happened and a jury of six women found their son’s killer not guilty. When I learned of the verdict on Sunday morning, July 14, my delayed praying tears ended their wait. I wept. I grieved for Trayvon Martin and for all the teenagers whose lives are lost to gun violence, and I grieved for our criminal justice system and for our nation. (more…)

My Dinner with Bernie

July 29, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Family, Missy Beattie

The More Things Change…

by Missy Beattie

“That sounds like something Bernie would do. This is Bernie,” I’d said to Charles, years ago. He shook his head no.

Before we met, Charles lived in NYC, where he got his PhD. That’s how he knew Bernie, both at NYU in the department of nuclear engineering. My husband collected characters, and Bernie was one. Charles had plenty of Bernie stories but disagreed with my realization, couldn’t fathom that one of his friends could do what struck me as obvious.

A few years after Charles and I married and were living in Kentucky, Bernie visited. He drove a rental car from Manhattan to Lexington, on his way somewhere. He stayed a few hours and had dinner with us. (more…)


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