I appreciate John Hubbuch’s recurring pieces reminding us that our successful past efforts to promote diversity are not a guarantee of success in the future. As he explains [A little perspective goes a long, long way, Viewpoints, May 11], the reason we haven’t suffered from segregation is because we have institutions and policies in place to foster integration. We still need those institutions and policies.
Meanwhile, I am grateful for (though also disheartened about) the letter from Eireann Dolan [It’s not easy being young and black in OP, Viewpoints, May 4] and her willingness to describe her harassment from fellow Oak Parkers. In both cases, we are reminded that we still have work to do in achieving meaningful and lasting racial diversity in Oak Park.
As we aspire to achieve an open and inclusive community, we must combat the forces that divide us. We must also ensure that the wonderful opportunities in Oak Park are available and of benefit to everyone.
Recently, I was quoted in The American Prospect regarding diversity and integration. I said, “Oak Park is not perfect, but we’re much better than everywhere else.” I stand by that statement. This is a community where many of us truly value our diversity. But it is also a community where we must continue to give meaning to that value and aspire for greater inclusion and interaction.
Simply put, our integration doesn’t happen magically or without effort. It requires policies and day-to-day efforts to sustain and improve an integrated community. It’s even harder when that community is situated in a region defined by hyper-segregation. This will remain the case for as long as Oak Park remains unique.
The Housing Center will continue to play its role by attracting a diverse demand for housing in Oak Park. We will continue to encourage affirmative moves as well. We know that integrated neighborhoods are the foundation of integrated schools and social networks.
The Housing Center’s mission is to achieve meaningful and lasting racial diversity. Many of you reading this moved here because you wanted to live in a diverse community. We’ll be hosting a forum at 7 p.m. on June 8. A diverse panel will join us with their thoughts. We’ll discuss how we can ensure that Oak Park’s future will continue to be diverse. We’ll also ask how our community can continue to improve as a place of opportunity for everyone who lives here.
I hope you’ll join us for the forum. We need you to join us in championing the values that brought you here, so Oak Park will continue to reflect those values for future generations.
Executive director, Oak Park Regional Housing Center