It’s damn hard to write every single day, but I’ve been writing for a long time so I figure I’ll pad my blog with previous writing. This blog is an archive anyway. Now that I’ve got this goal to write seven times a week, you’ll see more old stuff. Here’s something I wrote for my business school’s newspaper.
I was pumped to write a rave review about a Hyde Park restaurant I patronized last Sunday. My sister’s boyfriend, who was in town for a medical conference, was kind enough to take the shuttle from O’Hare to Hyde Park to meet me for the first time and have brunch. With about 30 minutes to go until his arrival, I hastily got ready, logged on to Chicago Citysearch, and found a winner in one of their ‘Best Of’ food categories. I was delighted that the restaurant was only a ten minute drive from Regents.
The place is hurting for a serious facelift. If there hadn’t been an open sign, I would have thought the restaurant had shut down. I’m guessing it’s been around since the 70’s. Inside, despite the dated furniture, cracked seats, and very dulling upholstery and curtain color, there was an upbeat, friendly ambiance–definitely the place to go on a lazy Sunday to warm your soul.
Speak of the devil, that’s what they serve–tasty honest-to-goodness soul food. They’ve got their recipes down just right because it’s some of the best soul food I’ve ever had. I’d even go so far as to say it’s probably the best food I’ve eaten since I moved to Chicago. Gabbing away with the attentive servers, I gushed, “I’m going to write about this place in my school newspaper!” I continued to chow down on the remaining bits of cornbread, looking forward to sharing my newfound neighborhood gem with the GSB.
My excitement came to a standstill when I came home and told my roommate about it. Then the moment of truth arrived. Yeah, it’s in a sketchy neighborhood. So what? This is Hyde Park, not Lincoln Park. Sure, my sister’s boyfriend and I were the only non-black people there. Big deal, right?
Flashback to two years ago: I was visiting a friend in Chicago over the summer. Though the name of the venue escapes me, I said to one of her Chicago friends, “Hey, I hear we should check out this club.” He promptly dismissed my suggestion, “Only black people go there.”
What the hell? Where does this mentality come from?
When I returned to San Francisco, I talked to my co-worker Kevin. He was born and raised in Chicago. “There are great things about Chicago, and then there are bad things about Chicago. There are reasons I’m not there anymore and that is one of them.”
Well now I’m here and I don’t want those things to be true! Say it isn’t so, Chicago. Prove that mentality wrong, GSB. But what’s to be expected when Martin Luther King, Jr. day, a national holiday, passes without a single communication commemorating its importance. What’s to be expected when our idea of a cultural event is a Bulls basketball game, or eating different ethnic food during Brats n’ Brew. How do any of these events significantly promote understanding or cultural awareness?
I realize there are safety concerns. How did that song put it… “You ain’t ever been to the ghetto, don’t come to the ghetto.” Yeah, well, that’s the kind of thinking that enslaves and keeps all of us in the back of the bus. My friend was gunned down in high school; if I was concerned about my safety, it would have meant never leaving my house. It’s not easy for women to go to business schools dominated by men. It’s not easy to work for companies where diversity means hiring a non-white receptionist. It’s not easy for international students to leave home and struggle with language barriers. We’ve all got our challenges. It’s when we move to surmount them that we learn and grow.
Building Community through Relationships…Energy, Action, Results…Building Bridges…There was unprecedented turnout during the GBC election to vote for these principles upon which the slates were founded. Take heed and take heart. Try to move beyond what’s comfortable and easy.
The workers and the people in the restaurant were certainly taken aback when we walked in. I could tell with their startled glances. Nevertheless, they made an extra effort to accommodate us. I assume they recognized that we had intentionally put ourselves in unfamiliar territory. Besides our server, two other people stopped by to ask if they could answer any questions about the menu items. And while we were waiting for a cab, one of the waitresses came over and handed us candy.
I’m guessing no one wants to know the name of this place. I mean, who in their right mind, would want to go to a place like this?
I’ll go back. Maybe one day, you’ll venture out and join me.