Friday, October 2, 2009

How Do American Cities become Worthy of the Olympic Games?

As the morning began many Chicagoans were hopeful they would host the 2016 Olympic Games. But this was not to be the case as they lost their bid on the first round of votes. There’s much debate about why Chicago did not make it past the first round of voting this morning. I imagine there are some who do not care that Chicago lost their bid while others feel Chicago didn’t deserve the opportunity to host the games. Activist and author Kevin Powell (no relationship to this writer) voiced this view in his Op-Ed titled “Chicago, Obama, the Olympics, and the Murder of Derrion Albert” posted on Huffington Post:
Powell argues that Chicago and most major urban US cities need a “domestic Marshall Plan,” which he says would deal with the social issues plaguing these cities. Powell writes that these issues include failing schools, terrible housing conditions, limited job, career, and business opportunities, a culture of violence and “the hopelessness and mayhem that led to the very recent beating death of a teen named Derrion Albert.”
I disagree with Powell when he says Chicago did not deserve to host the games. This opportunity would have invigorated many industries and businesses thus generating needed revenue and jobs. However Powell did correctly identify a major concern and his call for an urban Marshall plan is right on the money. Inner city residents aren’t the only individuals impacted by the decline in urban areas. The entire city and nation suffers – rampant crime, particularly violent crime threatens the entire nation and may have influenced voters in Copenhagen this morning.
Is it possible that voters were swayed by images of that unfortunate young man being beaten to death by other young men— young men who should have had his back. When I worked in human services I found that there was a disconnect between mainstream America and the kind of youths who are capable of beating another human being to death. Many of the men I worked with had experienced so much abuse early in their lives that they were unable to feel empathy or compassion – they lacked a sense of humanity which made them extremely dangerous. We need to make sure all children grow up in safe and loving environments free from crime and violence.
Any plan should focus on ensuring children do not have to experience the kind of violence that teaches them to be dangerous. This plan should include programs to teach overwhelmed parents how to discipline their children without resorting to violence. Anytime a parent or caregiver strikes a child this parent unwittingly teaches that child that violence is the only recourse for all problems. An urban Marshall plan should also focus on motivating youths to view themselves as a part of the greater community and invested in the well being of their communities. It does not matter whether Kevin Powell believes Chicago deserved the Summer Olympics if urban youths do not feel invested in the success of their communities.
There is work to be done in order ensure our cities are ready for the next bid. We have to make sure the Darrion Alberts of the world are safe in order to attract the kind of events that will help our society.
Copyright ©Sharon D. Powell, 2009 all rights reserved

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