So the word is out that Harold Washington's election has created a "deep psychological depression" among many of your white, ethnic, neighborhood people.
That's the way syndicated columnist Mike Royko put it. He told you to relax.
I second the motion. He's right, you know.
Right now, the acrimony in Chicago may be threatening to turn into rebellion, in the form of some desperate political maneuvers to deny Rep. Harold Washington the general election victory that has for many years gone to the Democratic primary winner. But if the success record of many other cities that have elected black mayors is any indication, the 6 percent of the white voters who pulled the lever for Washington should be joined by many from the 94 percent who split between Jane Byrne and Richard Daley.
In city after city where blacks are in control, they have not governed with injustice. They have not said: "Whitey, get out."
Look at Los Angeles and New Orleans. Even in Atlanta and Birmingham where blacks historically have been sadly mistreated, black leaders have been fair and brought prosperity. Wherever blacks have come into their rightful place because of their ability to lead, they have not resorted to arrogance. Evidence of this is that in case after case, they have been reelected.
Take note of us here in D.C. The black population here is 70 percent, compared to 40 percent in your town, and we have had a black mayor for years. Whites here are moving in, not moving out. We are still a growing city. We are in what might be described as almost a building boom in these dismal days of Reaganomics. We have a new convention center. Office buildings are sprouting. We're bringing people downtown and we're rebuilding our city.
So you should believe Harold Washington when he says: "We shall have an open and fair government in which all people of all colors, races and creeds are treated fairly, equally and equitably."
I would also hope that the blacks in Chicago would refrain from arrogance in their hour of strength. They must know that their great feeling of elation is shared by blacks all over the country. Washington's upset shows how registration and voting by blacks pay off. Even my 16-year-old began the day after the election with a quiet "yea-a-a."
But there is a flip side to the racial vote we've been hearing so much about. The fact that Rep. Washington received 6 percent of the white vote means that thousands of white Chicagoans, in the privacy of the polling place, decided that they preferred Washington to either Daley or Byrne.
This was a vote of revulsion against the machine -- against Daleyism, against cronyism. Washington said he would end that system, and apparently enough people believed him to pull that lever -- even in Chicago.
In many ways, this was a very hopeful sign in American politics. For the best hope facing this current generation is for whites to see enough in common in their situation and in the situation of black people that they would ignore race and go for the real issues.
The well-known novelist John Oliver Killens, writing recently in the foreword to the republication of Samuel F. Yette's "The Choice," put it this way:
"... Finally as we struggle for survival and for our own self-fulfillment, we must struggle for a coalition with and for a time of clarity for the white masses in this country, a struggle with them for their ultimate understanding that what is good for black people is good for the entire masses of their nation; that when the bottom rises everything above is simultaneously elevated."
Chicago may now well be taking her place among other cities in the country who have faced up to black leadership and found that the earth kept whirling. In many ways, it whirled much better.
If you love your city, stay there. It will be cheaper than moving back in a decade when you see that the Magnificent Mile is as stunning as ever.