Living for the City

President Obama took his case for an $800 billion economic recovery package to one of the most distressed places in America on Monday as he opened a series of campaign-style events intended to press Congress to approve the plan by week’s end.
At Town Hall Rally, Obama Pushes Stimulus Plan from the New York Times

I gotta admit that when I first read that opening passage I thought Obama was up in the Bronx and following in the footsteps of formers Presidents Carter, Reagan, and Clinton. (Brief aside: Are the Bushes scared of the BX? One has to wonder.)

Let’s put my Bronx pride to the side for a second and ponder on President Obama’s Urban Policy.

As a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago, President Obama learned firsthand that urban poverty is more than just a function of not having enough in your pocketbook. It’s also a matter of where you live — in some of our inner-city neighborhoods, poverty is difficult to escape because it’s isolating and it’s everywhere. Our job across America is to create communities of choice, not of destiny, and create conditions for neighborhoods where the odds are not stacked against the people who live there. President Obama is committed to leading a new federal approach to America’s high-poverty areas, an approach that facilitates the economic integration of families and communities with efforts to support the current low-income residents of those areas.
Opening to President Obama’s Urban Policy

The list that Obama’s team has put together gets it right when it comes to most of the factors in modern urban living. The only beef I have is that the Crime and Law Enforcement subsection doesn’t make any mention of funding community organization to help curtail gang violence (Note Luis J. Rodriguez’s Community-Based Gang Intervention Model). Otherwise, it feels like urban development and growth is getting some proper consideration in the overall outlook of the Nation.

This isn’t to say that any of these steps will be followed through but I also never thought that a President could get so animated about getting a domestic policy followed through with the kind of fervor you see on this video. Not only does Obama mention food stamps (Hail the Purple Five!) but you also get the feeling he is so close to saying: Don’t fuck with me, I’m the God Damn President… now get this shit passed!

Author: Oscar Bermeo

Born in Ecuador and raised in the Bronx, Oscar Bermeo is the author of the chapbooks Anywhere Avenue, Palimpsest, Heaven Below, and To the Break of Dawn. He lives and works in Oakland, CA.

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