Dear Resident


Dear Resident,

Welcome back, welcome back to us all. I say “to us all” because since the last edition of Residents’ Journal I had quit resolving never to write for RJ again. I quit because I had become disillusioned with RJ and the direction which it seemed to be taking. For me, RJ began in a small room, with a small group of residents with big visions for RJ. Residents Journal, “a publication for and by the residents of Chicago Housing Authority.” I must have been euphoric to the point of being naive to believe that RJ would be a resident driven publication, without many of the same problems as the other CHA programs, projects and proposals of the past which seem to benefit the people outside of public housing more than the people in public housing. The most disillusioning thing for me is that while RJ reaches individuals across the city, state, country and even overseas, it is not reaching what I consider to be a reasonable majority of CHA residents. In my development, Cabrini-Green, only people who walked into the management office and noticed the papers or those to whom I gave copies actually had seen it.

I feel that the RJ staff – residents included – the resident leadership of the Local Advisory Councils (LACs) and CHA staff could do more to ensure that RJ reaches a reasonable majority of CHA residents. RJ has even won an award from the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO). The recognition of RJ by anyone could never mean more to me than the recognition of RJ by my peers, neighbors and fellow CHA residents across Chicago. Today more than ever before, the residents of CHA need information, direction and support. I had hoped that RJ would serve as a tool to provide such to the residents.

Please know that the above statement in no way seeks to lay the blame of inadequate or poor distribution of RJ at the feet of those responsible for the distribution of RJ. Certainly, we realize that due to the configuration and circumstances of public housing that the distribution of anything would be difficult at best. And although the first edition of RJ was delivered by CHA staff, CHA is not solely responsible for the delivery of RJ. But if RJ is to be successful in the delivery of information to CHA residents, everyone involved, even residents, must do what they can to that end. And as RJ soars, growing and taking new directions with resident distribution as an old but ever constant priority, you should know that RJ is delivered to various entities in your development for door-to-door distribution. In some developments, Boy and Girl Scouts are doing an excellent job of getting the paper to their neighbors. In others, individual residents and groups of residents also are doing a good job. But if you do not have one delivered to your door, you should be able to get a copy at your management office. If not, please call RJ at 312-674-4218 to find out where you can get a copy in your development.

And with all of that, I have returned to RJ because I consider myself to be a mature person. And one sign of maturity is the ability to adjust and re-adjust your thinking, views, decisions and actions when appropriate and necessary. In addition, a conversation with a long-time peer and neighbor helped to realize that the issues of health, education, welfare and housing within CHA continue and need to be told. My original feelings have not changed; neither have the reasons that I came to RJ. So, I will govern myself accordingly, re-adjust my actions and continue to write in RJ not for RJ but for my fellow residents. And I ask that you re-adjust making delivery of RJ to your home your responsibility too. If you want it, and it is not delivered to your home, please go to your management office and pick one up there. And if you have a mind to, take one for your neighbors. I wish I could say something noble like if RJ reaches just one resident than that is enough. But the best that I can do is that one is better than none and may we all be that one. So, in closing, I am back and surprisingly glad to be here. Please let me hear from you, whether you are in or out of public housing. I can use some fuel for thought and to keep me going. I only have one regret. Before my departure from RJ, I had hoped to do a Father’s Day article on the Black Man in our community. This is an idea that I got from a Black, female Sun-Times columnist, Mary Mitchell. She wrote a column about her sons in which she asks the question, who sings love songs to the Black Man? I could not fully appreciate what she meant until a Black cab driver sang me a song, telling me how proud he is of the Black Woman and how we were out front taking the lead in our homes and communities. I responded, “Thank you. But please realize that by design, society has made it, to some extent, easy for us and difficult for you.”

So ladies, to whatever extent possible, love, cherish and support the Black Man in your life. Your husband, lover or friend. Father, grandfather, brother, son, grandson. Uncle, nephew or cousin. When appropriate, sing them a “love song” because if we don’t, who will? We all know that nobody can tear a Black Man down like a Black Woman. It’s time to see if we can’t build them up the same way – like nobody else can. Remember, it’s not the big things or the little things… it’s all things. And when dealing with each other Man to Woman or Woman to Man, in all things, do it with peace, love and a “song” to the upbuilding of the men, women and children in our homes and communities…Sing you later. And that’s all she wrote.

Sincerely yours,

Patricia Johnson-Gordon

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