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University where's that

University of Chicago? where’s that? Black/White America 

There are two Americas
A black and white America
A mostly white middle-class, and upper class America
And a mostly black and brown lower-class America.

It has been this way
Since the beginning. 

Most white Americans
Do not see the other America,
Almost invisible to them.

Most of the other America
Barely notices 
Middle-class America 
All around them.

This was vividly driven home 
To me
Back in 1977.

I had gone to Chicago
To visit a friend
At the University of Chicago. 

I made the mistake of taking the L train 
back to the University
 the L station was in Woodlawn 
five long dangerous dark blocks away
I was the only white dude
on the train and street. 

but in a whole different universe.
 the University of Chicago stop 
is on the private commuter line. 

Getting off, I asked five random people 
Where was the University of Chicago?
The University of Chicago was 
One of the most famous, prestigious universities
In the whole world.

But to the residents
Of the urban nightmare slum,
That was Woodlawn

back then,
The university could have been
The other side of the moon
for no one knew 
exactly where it was.

Now I hear 
It is a student and faculty housing 
Newly trending.

With most of the old residences
Long ago forced out
Due to ever-rising rents 
And property taxes

As the University of Chicago
Spreads out colonizing
The nearby neighborhoods.

Most said University. 
before pointing out, 
it is over there somewhere. 

They were nice enough
But wondering 
How this strange white boy
Got lost 
In their hood.

I am lucky 
I was not mugged ,
for my ignorance.

Just wrong place, wrong time 
Sort of thing after all
A place where white boys
Feared to go.

 Of course, back then, 
 I was a 6 2 230 pound white dude, 
with wild crazed eyes
behind my glasses 

I could be mobbed up
Or someone important
Or the child of someone powerful.
I just gave off that vibe
I supposed.

So, no one wanted 
to mess with me.

 When I got back, 
Everyone was amazed 
that I had survived 
the five-block walk after dark.

Truth be told
That was a scary walk
after dark.

With lots of scary-looking dudes
With violence in their dark dead eyes
looking at me.

I said it was not too bad
But did not take the L train again.
During my trip to Chicago.
In the summer of 1977.

Copyright © jake aller