Stuck in the Past | Letters | Chicago Reader

Stuck in the Past 

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To the editors:

I am a black long-time Hyde Park resident. Appalled, I ask: Why did the Reader publish an outmoded type of sociological study which degraded Hyde Park, current race relations, human interactions, and the black communities? "Slim and Bart" by Mitchell Duneier [August 7] was excerpted from a dissertation published by the University of Chicago Press. That's their problem.

The excerpt and its accompanying justification piece were, in my opinion, a waste of space--space which could have better been filled with a contemporary, insightful story about a neighborhood or a neighborhood landmark.

Duneier latched onto Valois cafeteria, a Hyde Park landmark, for his dissertation. What he did with his eavesdropping, his "observations" of the men who frequent Valois, and his conclusions represent a long step backward in characterizing human relations and portraying communities. The author now is in his 30s and took four years to complete his "study." How can a young, supposedly intelligent man become stuck in the dreary past?

Throughout the piece, Duneier referred to "the ghetto," "on the margin of the ghetto," "the black belt," the "black districts," and Stacy Adams shoes as the epitome of black men's footwear. If Duneier's print models were sociological books and studies from the 1940s, he needs to come into the 1990s. It was disgusting to read this drivel in the Reader. If the author was well-meaning, he missed the mark--by at least 50 years.

Jacqueline Moore

East End Ave.

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