Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

11 December 2008

Would living next to the POTUS make you feel safer?

Apparently the real estate market near the Obamas Chicago home is heating up:

The first house to sell in “Obama-Wood” since the presidential election was a 12-room, three-story Georgian that closed on December 3rd with a sale price of $1.25 million. (That was also the asking price—and the house sold in under a week.) Built in 1924 and owned for the past three decades by a University of Chicago professor and his lawyer wife, the house sits just 50 feet outside the barricades that have gone up around the Obamas’ block.

It's not just the idea of living in the same 'hood as the POTUS that may be driving this baby. It might also be the idea of living in the safest place in Chicago.

They didn’t come to Kenwood because of Obama—Coe grew up in Hyde Park and has several family members still living nearby—but they already appreciate the presence of the president-elect’s family. “There’s so much security in the neighborhood, I feel like our three-year-old could go out and dance in the middle of the street,” says Coe. “Security issues have always been a problem in Hyde Park and Kenwood. I don’t think we’ll have to worry about that for a while now.”

I was chatting with someone who has been living near the Obamas for quite some time a few weeks ago. I joked that she lives in the safest place and she gave me the look - You have no idea. She went on to spew a series of complaints about living in the 'safest place' in Chicago.

She has seen young men being harassed not to mention the very idea of so many police & security forces is unnerving for many young people, especially young people of color. I immediately realized the error I had made. I assumed that all people feel safe near police.

While I grew up in a working poor suburb with plenty of other Latin@s around me, but I never felt scared of the police. I was raised to obey. I dunno if it was a girl thing, a Latino thing or even an assimilation thing.I remember once uttering the "P" word in front of my late mom and woo boy did she lay into me. It reminded me of how as a grown Latina raising a Latina in Chicago, that I see the police is a different way. This is of course after moving to Chicago from the suburbs and seeing how some police have treated POC in my presence. I don't want to go into details, but I've seen things that I thought was only for movies to a naive suburban chick. I think of a post la Mala wrote earlier this year about teaching her own daughter about the police & the subway.

I am conflicted about the police. But I know it would be too much of a pain in the ass to live near the Obamas. I hate giving my ID when I attend meetings downtown much less having to give my ID to go home.

3 comments:

Having lived in Hyde Park and friends with Hyde Park lifers - and having to travel there quite often - this is nothing new (in terms of harassment of outsiders.) U of C was notorious for it. Now that POTUS is there - even worse. We need to keep him safe, for sure - but you couldn't pay me to live around the corner from him. What a pain in the neck!

Meant to put "outsiders" in quotes. I apologize for the mistake.

Part of the problem is equating police presence with safety. We need to think of safety beyond being protected by (overwhelmingly) white men in uniform. Especially given the history of how and why police forces were started in the United States and the ways they fail communities of color, not just in terms of direct harassment, but also in terms of the failure to properly investigate crimes against our communities