It was with great interest that I read the feature "Can We Save Our Neighborhoods?" in the Plain Dealer today. The focus was the rise and fall of Cleveland's Mt. Pleasant neighborhood over the last 70 years and how this community's roller coaster status is reflective of the entire city and region.
I found the article to accurately reflect the trends in this metropolitan area, but what continues to be missing from articles of this nature are answers to the deeper sociological questions. Why did one lot of people in large numbers develop or react to dire straits in such hard and callous ways?
Many scholars and experts will take you back to the Middle Passage and slavery, but that appears to be the simple and easy response. If in fact all problems were rooted in slavery - why then have some descendants excelled and others have not? Wouldn't this theory impact each descendant in the same way?
Well of course not! Just look around you and you will find siblings who share the same DNA, same developmental environment, but have extreme outcomes on both ends of the spectrum. During a conversation not long ago - one of Cleveland's "movers and shakers" further simplified the source of urban decay when he said, "It's poverty. The lack of jobs has led to an indifference." I would disagree that this represents the totality of the problem. Blacks have been impoverished since the Middle Passage, yet many have found a way out of poverty. Those that did not find a way out of poverty had something more purposeful and that was pride. With that sense of pride was also a faith in something larger than themselves and an abiding hope for a better tomorrow.
What are your thoughts on the decline of the inner city? Respond to the poll on the right as we continue this discussion.
Also check out the "backstory" on this issue. The Plain Dealer has presented a full multi-media package on this issue and it can be found here.