Hispanics in Wicker Park | Letters | Chicago Reader

Hispanics in Wicker Park 

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Dear Editor,

Correct me if I'm wrong but I think Huebner interviewed one Hispanic (this may be wishful thinking) in his article about Wicker Park gentrification ["The Panic in Wicker Park," August 26] and this was in reference to the effect of gentrification on the art community and not the displacement of Hispanic families in the area. I lived in pre-gentry Lakeview (1970s) and I remember well the exodus of exiled Hispanics, during the invasion and takeover of affluent whites, who wound up, you guessed it, in Wicker and Humboldt Park, Logan Square and West Town. There was nothing cute about it or artsy fartsy, no hullabaloo staged by two seemingly allied rags just to be clever, subversive, or worse yet rekindle the offensive notion of a white man's burden. No, in our case the electricity to our apartment was suddenly and without warning turned off, as was the water and gas, by a new owner trying to circumvent our lease. Having disconnected our utilities he then caused our bathroom ceiling to collapse. We called the police but they told us they couldn't do a thing because we weren't injured, and after all, it could've been just an accident as the new owner claimed. After about a month of what amounted to terrorism my mother packed up her kids and furnishings and we moved.

Here's what I don't get. How is it the focus of the article dealt nearly exclusively with at best a debatable issue, whether gentrification subverts art (ok, it dealt with money grubbers and warmongers too), while almost totally ignoring the considerably less debatable consequences of gentrification on the mostly Hispanic residents of the area. I shudder to think what'll happen when Humboldt Park is discovered by the gentry. Albizu Campos will surely come down and probably Custer will be hoisted in his place. Those who can will likely move even farther west, those who can't may as well jump in the Humboldt Park lagoon. To tell you the truth I'm shocked the Reader took such a slant on a story that has heartbreaking consequences for an already marginalized community.

Edwin Rodriguez

Lincoln Square

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