Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Reflections: Chicago Vacation

I'm currently spending a few days visiting friends in the Windy City, Chicago. I've had a great time relaxing and wandering around, somewhere between aimlessly and purposefully...

One thing I've noticed is that everywhere I've been - restaurants, shops, post office, libraries, museums - every employee in a service position has been a person of color. Low wage jobs, no doubt, all filled by people of color, primarily, at least where I've been, African-American. I talked with my friend about her place of employment - she works for a non-profit social justice agency - and she says there are no upper level employees of color at her work place - many in the lowest positions, but none in upper level spots. Why? Certainly, in her job, where door to door advocacy plays a big role, people of color face discrimination, or at least struggle with fears and confidence issues because of expected racial discrimination.
Another thing I noticed: people who own cars here must be crazy. I walked by a parking garage where you would pay $8.00 for 20 minutes of parking time. And yet, as I was riding the el into downtown, I overheard a conversation between two college women who were talking about wanting cars. Why? "It would just be nice to have one." Hm. We are such consumers! (as always, I include myself here.)
Anyway, there are great things here too. Like "free day" at the Art Institue, where I got to view works of Picasso, Manet, and Pollock. I'm not a big visual arts person, but after reading The DaVinci Code, it was more fun to visit the galleries. I can see why it is easy to believe there are hidden messages in art - the paintings I looked at certainly seemed rich in meanings.
(tourist haven Navy Pier)
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