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Segregation never brought anyone anything except trouble. - Paul Harris

Ghetto - an area within a city characterized by poverty and acute social disorganization and inhabited by members of a racial or ethnic group under  conditions of involuntary segregation. (1968 Kerner Commission, quoted by City of Rhetoric, pg 65)

Racial segregation has been a significant problem in Chicago since the 1880s and was propogated by huge waves of immigration of African-Americans between 1910 - 1920. The city began as very racially integrated, but quickly shifted to having  racially segregated areas characterized by tension and even violence. The power of the ghetto in isolating the black population in Chicago fostered very intense racial conflict and defined the character of Chicago.


A String of Appartment Buildings in the Chicago Ghetto

"Chapter 4 Ghetto: Chicago, 1995" is David Fleming's look at the growth of the black ghetto in Chicago and its immense impact on the city. The chapter provides a timeline of the growth of the ghetto as well as an examination of the rhetorical situation surrounding the ghetto.


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Though this chapter examines Chicago in the 1990s, the problems Chicago face through the presence of its ghettos still persist in the modern day:

In 2010, Chicago was rated the 3rd most racially divided city in the United States due to the very distinct separations between ethnic groups in the city. Fleming may have looked at ghettos decades ago, but the problems he highlights still persist today. 




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Think about it:

What comes to mind when you think of a ghetto?

a. American Ghettos and Racial Segregation

While Chicago's Southside Ghetto is the most prominent ghetto in the United States, there are many other ghettos that target not only African-Americans but also Hispanics and Asians. Chinatowns across the United States were originally means of segregating the Asians in major cities like Boston, Los Angeles, New York City, etc. Also, recent Hispanic immigrants are thrown into ghettos all over California and many other places in the United States. 

b. Jewish Ghettos in World War II

The term ghetto was originally used in Venice, Italy describing the place where Jews were compelled to live. Jewish ghettos were not an uncommon creation; the most well-known Jewish ghetto in World War II was the Warsaw Ghetto but there were also ghettos in Austria, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Morocco, etc.

c. Socioeconomically based slums

While ghettos encompass a racial or ethnci factor, a very plausible thought when considering the term ghetto is to think of the part of the city "on the other side of the tracks." The places that become hubs for the unemployed or underemployed and consist of rundown housing and terrible conditions. 

d. Other

Comment below on what your instinctual response is to the term ghetto.

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