Saturday, August 29, 2009

Racism, "Uptown Update" and Policing Comments

As a resident of Chicago's Uptown neighborhood, I regularly read the neighborhood blog, "Uptown Update", because it has unparalleled coverage of what's going on in the hood. As a source of updates, facts and news in the neighborhood, there really isn't a better source. From what I've seen since I've lived here, UU has done a lot of good and is in many ways a great neighborhood forum and conduit for community.

But they run a tight ship over at Uptown Update. They have a strict political line and they always see to it that current events are massaged to bolster their political aims.

On the issue of gentrification, they are unequivocally, undeniably, openly very much in favor of it. And by 'they', I don't mean just the authors of the blog, but especially some of their readership.

Given my experience posting comments on their blog, I know that they very strictly police what gets put up and what does not. First of all, nothing is posted until a site administrator publishes it. They don't go and police after the fact, but they screen every single comment on their website.

Now I know that doesn't necessarily mean that the blog's authors therefore agree wholeheartedly with everything that gets posted. But I've noticed some trends.

When I attempted to post a critical comment about a post on gentrification a couple of months ago, the folks at Uptown Update decided not to allow my comment to go up. It wasn't shrill or beligerent; it was a short, tightly-argued paragraph attempting to complicate the facile choice that UU was pushing on the issue (i.e. "either we can have a violent slum or we can have Lincoln Park North: there is no alternative"). I've had similar experiences when it comes to posting comments that have a critical angle that complicates the line UU is pushing: they just don't want to hear this stuff and they don't want anyone else to either.

But for all that policing and scouring of comments that they do, they sure let a lot of racist bullshit fly on their comment boards. Here's a recent gem:
" jimo says: Let me guess, if we had more programs out there to help these troubled youths, we wouldn't have these problems, right? LOL

What a pack of animals...can't wait for new members to move into WY...

How sad....

The context of the comment is a recent gang scuffle (i.e. a shouting match with some bottle throwing and shoving) in Uptown that was captured on video by a resident and made it on the evening news. The first 'prefatory' comment suggests that if these teenagers had grown up in different social circumstances, it wouldn't have made much difference (i.e. they're 'essentially bad'). The next comment, "What a pack of animals", refers to the black teenagers involved in the scuffle in the video. When "Jimo" says "can't wait until new members move into" Wilson Yard, a new development in the area that will include social housing for low income residents, "Jimo's" basically saying that any (black) people who might move into the social housing are animals and criminals (and, presumably, shouldn't be allowed to move in at all). Combine that with "Jimo's" preface and you have yourself a pretty fucked up conservative tirade complete with dehumanizing claims about poor black residents in Uptown.

So stuff like that gets airtime all the time over at UU, but if you dare say anything critical they silence you.


nnssls said...

I know this is an older post, but I have been having the SAME problem with Uptown Update. When I become angry with something they say, and perhaps speak a little too quickly, they put my comment up to be ridiculed by all. When I put forth a well-thought out argument that opposes what they are promoting (level-headed and I believe intelligent arguments) -- it doesn't get posted. They have also accused me of "playing the race card", on several occasions. It's so frustrating, because I want to be part of the site, but the constant Shiller-bashing and pro-gentrification forum excludes me!

Anonymous said...

god bless you, pink scare, as i have found you because ,incidentally, i was censored today on uptown update, too. they are a whiny bunch of crybabies who like to tug, weep and blame on the hem of helen shiller's dress. i have reason to believe the myopic viewpoint is politically motivated by someone who wants to oust her(I might add it is much needed--she's been on the job wayy too long), along with some creepy henchpeople that wish to serve in office somehow too. for the way they distance themselves into their hateful utopia, the people behind uu have ~no chance~ of winning. thank god because that mentality in charge would be absolutely awful for the community.

Anonymous said...

Yea, Uptown Update routinely censors comments that aren't in line with their agendas.

Fuck Uptown Update.

Anonymous said...

I've had this experience as well, I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one.

Anonymous said...

The comment left by jimo does not say they are essentially bad. It says that "programs" would not have changed whether they are bad or not.