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I am writing in response to the article by Jack Clark, “On the Streets Where I Lived” [January 15]. While I found the article to be insightful regarding how white people lived in the Austin community prior to 1968, I took exception to how the black people who moved in were perceived by the author. It paints them all as criminal. A woman is nearly raped by one of the new residents. A young black boy steals a dog. These types of occurrences can happen in any neighborhood. When Clark wonders what became of the little boy and writes him off by saying, “he would have needed plenty of luck, growing up out here,” it’s just plain bias, racism, and prejudice, pure and simple.
My family moved to the Austin community between 1967 and 1968, and with the exception of a two-year stint in Lakeview I am a lifelong resident. I grew up in Austin. My parents raised five children there. We are all adults now, and I am proud to say that my siblings and I didn’t fall into any of the traps that ensnared many young people. My brothers were never in trouble with the law. They never dealt drugs or fathered children out of wedlock.
My sisters and I did not become pregnant prior to marriage. All of us have been to college. Our degrees range from communications to psychology to finance. The schools we graduated from include the University of Illinois at Chicago, DePaul University, and Loyola University.
Clark implies that to grow up successfully in Austin takes a lot of luck. Luck has nothing to do with it. My siblings and I made it because we had a solid upbringing. We had a stable family life because my mother and father were committed to each other and to us, their children. They taught us by example by leading a clean lifestyle. They instilled in us the importance of an education and the work ethic. They always told us to maintain high moral and social standards. They also told us to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything. My father stood up for what he believed in. He spearheaded a movement that kept Michelle Clark School from being built on our block, which would have resulted in our building and other homes being demolished.
Perhaps Jack Clark can gain some insight into the people that moved into Austin after his departure, only this time it will be positive.