Thats what Susan Lydon is trying to tell us in a recent edition of her Cityscape column in the Oakland Tribune. Lydon, like all who live, work, or simply pass through Oakland, is troubled by the citys staggering homicide statistics for 2002: 113 dead, mostly young black males. Oaklands mean streets have been likened to a war zone.
Lydon opens by saying: Like everyone else in Oakland, Ive been thinking a lot about the soaring murder rate here and wondering what could be done to stem the tide. Lydons thoughts bring her back to an earlier era: Oakland in 2002 reminds me of New York City in the early 1980s.
Oh? How so?
High unemployment, Republican in the White House, faltering economy, misery trickling down to the ghetto. Funny, save for the Republican part, that sounds a lot like East Palo Alto in the 1990s (when Bill Clinton was in office), which earned it the unfortunate title Murder Capital of the World by having the highest per capita murder rate in the U.S. (and presumably the world), much higher than Oaklands rate in 2002.
Lydon elaborates: By the 1980s, Reaganomics had created a permanent underclass of minority youths. Created? Are we to believe that minority underclasses didnt exist before the 1980s?
Lydon continues: As manufacturing left the city [New York then, Oakland now] and information technology took over, there was no place for the poor to be unemployed. No place? Isnt that what a ghetto is a place for the poor to be unemployed?
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