March 23, 2017 - Juan Montas
In Part 2, Chapter 4 “Ghetto” of City of Rhetoric, Fleming discusses the reasons why Chicago had become a ghetto city by the mid-1990s, due to the high amounts of poverty, unemployment, violence, and crime rates. This ghetto culture served as a way for the communities in Chicago to start isolating themselves which caused less social gathering.
The Cabrini Green families were primarily led by single mothers who did not have a job. These women had one duty and it is was to raise their children in the best way possible by giving them all of their time and buying necessities such as food and clothing. This led women not participating in the outside world. As well, the communities were isolated in the built environment, which meant that there were a lot of black families with whom there was no contact. “Ironically, within a large, diverse, and highly mobile post-industrial society such as the United States, black living in the heart of the ghetto are among the most isolated people on Earth” (Fleming, 88). This segregation limited the Cabrini Green family to create a functioning public sphere due to the high amounts of social inequality between classes.
In Chicago, the “terrorization” and violence in public spaces made it difficult for people to go out into the streets and discuss with neighbors or other civilians. Public spaces such as elevators, lobbies, stairwells, and laundry rooms were the greatest targets of crime. “To be in public in places like this, in other words, is to be at risk for one’s life” (Fleming, 89). This made it useless to encourage public discourse since there were not safe places for the civilians. Not only were there no public spaces, but also the new “ghetto” that imposed fear and violence created a more isolated community.
At the end of the chapter, Fleming discusses how the isolating atmosphere of the ghetto made the community a quiet place. Due to high crime rates the citizens of Chicago went to the streets few times and instead stayed home protecting themselves and their families. A code of silence was implemented on its own due to isolation within the community. Fear was everywhere in the city of Chicago as the new ghettos grew.
Fleming, David. City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan America. SUNY Press, 2008.