06 November 2007
RAPID TRANSIT, SEGREGATION
So I'm back from a trip to Québec, where I spent most of the time explaining that Cleveland isn't really that bad and that my crippling depression really isn't that crippling. All in all, the trip was probably not worth the extraordinary expense.
But this blog is not about Québec or my not-that-crippling depression. It is about Cleveland! And my latest revelatory Cleveland moment was a my trip to the airport, my first encounter with the light-rail component of the dubious-award-winning Cleveland Rapid Transit.
The light rail stop that is walking distance from my house is at 120th and Euclid, which is essentially on the border between East Cleveland and Cleveland proper. East Cleveland has been systematically impoverished. (I have taken some snapshots which perhaps problematically aestheticize the picturesque urban decay and deprivation of East Cleveland.
The train came relatively promptly, and was relatively full. And I was the only white person on the entire train. More than that, I was the only non-African American.
Thinking back, I guess there were many times when I got on the (now defunct) #40 bus line from Oakland to Berkeley when I was the only white person, but then there were invariably Latino and Asian Oaklanders on the bus. I can't immediately call to mind occasions, before coming to Cleveland, that I found myself in entirely black spaces like this, although I'm sure there have been some (that fish and chips shop on Oakland's Grand Ave, maybe? Particular, rare moments at the Chicken and Waffle House?)
I have no particular insight about this fact, or how it felt—particularly because as soon as the train got past the University Circle station I was no longer the only non-black passenger, and by the time we reached Tower City the train was fully integrated. I only make the observation, especially since, like so many experiences so far in Ohio, it is a new to me, but only subtly so.
In related news, today is election day, and I'm not voting, since I never got around to registering. There is, apparently, a measure to fund the Cleveland Heights public schools better. (I heard about it on the radio; I'm too lazy to dig up a link to a news story.) It is predicted to fail, since all the white families send their children to private school, and won't vote to allow their taxes to pay for the consequently-mostly-black public schools. Ain't democracy grand!?
ETA! (Wednesday 7/11): The Cleveland Heights school tax levy passed, 5822 to 4723! Hooray for democracy! Or for noblesse oblige or whatever!