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Readers Weigh In on Chicago's Extreme Segregation on Red Line

By Justin Breen | January 13, 2016 5:34am | Updated on February 8, 2016 5:51pm
 Connected Division
Connected Division
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Connected Division

CHICAGO — Austyn Wyche's Red Line rides documenting "extreme segregation" in Chicago provoked dozens of comments on Neighborhood Square.

Wyche spent a good part of several months riding the Red Line to document and photograph people who took the Red Line.

The 18-year-old Kenwood Academy graduate and Chatham native rode the Red Line from 95th Street to Howard Street — and back — several times, watching and snapping photos as the races of the car's occupants shifted in patterns.

His work was self-published in a book and online piece called "Connected Division," which Wyche described as his way of "focusing on segregation in Chicago using the CTA Red Line as a platform."

On Neighborhood Square, readers agreed and disagreed with Wyche's work.

User "grifter1910" wrote: "When I'm trying to catch the Red Line in the Loop, I always know which one I just missed. If mostly white people are coming up the stairs, that was a train towards 95th disgorging its North-Side passengers. If the group exiting the station is largely black, I know a train to Howard just passed through and let off its South-Siders."

User "ralphandrahm" wrote: "I think other posters have the right idea but the wrong conclusion. If he did this over 'several' months at 'several' different times of day and documented everything precisely for a dissertation his results could be picked apart ad nauseam. But it was a sociological ART PROJECT. I'd say mission accomplished."

User "kcirrot" noted: "With respect to the young man, I see plenty of diversity on the North Side. It's simply false to state that you don't see different races. I live in Roger's Park and see many Black (including myself), Asian, and Latino riders. I grew up in Chatham too, and the South branch of the Red Line is almost exclusively Black riders, but our lakefront communities of Uptown, Edgewater, Roger's Park are extremely diverse. Even Lakeview and Lincoln Park have substantial numbers of people of color."

User "sally-mclinn" chimed in with: "I don't think the city is divided by race, but by class. If you are black or Latino and can afford to live in Lincoln Park, there's nothing stopping you. But because most blacks and Latinos are the lower wage earners, they live in the lower-class parts of the city. I've visited Blacks who live very well and live in the UofI and West Loop part of town."

And user "michael-james" wrote: "liked the article. We definitely have a segregated city. We also have cross over, real diversity in places. As someone who stood at Rogers Park and Edgewater el stops for week after week passing out vote for Chuy literature, I must say that there were not only many blacks and latinos getting off the el, but also getting on. Remember: Rogers Park is 30% black, 30% latino, 30% white and 10% many others. Long way to go to building a city that is about sharing, compassion, and caring for each other. But there are plenty of us out here about that.... Thank you Austin for your project."

It's no secret Chicago is racially segregated — in fact, it's the third most segregated in the nation, the Tribune reported, behind Milwaukee and New York City.

Join the discussion here.

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