Columbus's historical border may be two rivers, but in a way, it's still land-locked. We are a supposed oasis of progressivism and independent spirit. Our fair city that is above all of your problematic favorite urban spaces. All we do is develop and win. Yet beneath all the glimmering Columbus Underground headlines, we are little more than yet another sand dune in the desert of American hubris. Like literally, the name of our city is Columbus, y'all. Well a couple Mondays ago, this sand dune got a well-deserved duststorm.
  Over the past few months, I've had the pleasure of being witness to a multi-faith coalition known as BREAD that has been pressing the City Council to get the police to recognize the Matricula Consular, a photo identification issued by the Mexican government to its citizens that are abroad. The goal is that residents without driver's licenses can still be able to produce a recognized ID during routine stops so that they don't have to be arrested and then, through the virtues of Secure Communities, be put through deportation proceedings. For their efforts, all they've received is a master class in the art of stonewalling, the opaque machinations of the state on fleek.
  Last month BREAD seemed to be making some progress, having secured a meeting with the Ginth himself. But the predictable results of said meeting became evident when BREAD rolled 100 deep to City Hall on April 20, and also in the subsequent wonderfully exasperated Ginther-face.
  I don't think I really ever understood the reality of one of the most economically segregated cities in the country until I found myself in that most Upper of Arlingtons. I needed a Bed, Bath and Beyond and while there I caught this decorative slab devoted to C-Bus pride that listed eight neighborhoods (two of which formed for the express purpose of NOT having to contribute their tax dollars to the city, and another two which didn't even exist fifteen years ago): Short North, Clintonville, German Village, Arena District, Brewery District, Grandview, Upper Arlington, Gateway. Let me be clear: in the minds of many, this is the entirety of our city. We literally don't acknowledge any parts of the city that don't border High Street. I know we all like to feel good about ourselves, but this kind of erasure is downright negligent. And it carries consequences.
  It's a pretty safe bet to say that the people pressing for the Matricula Consular do not come from the Short North, Clintonville or German Village. None of BREAD's organizing meetings happened in the neighborhoods that we put in brochures. I've seen a similar fate for the historic neighborhood of my childhood, Linden, which has the misfortune of being too far away for OSU developers to care about. The Cleveland Ave bus is the most used route in the entire city, and yet the street is noticeably absent on all of the city's crowd-sourced prospective mass transit maps. Instead, we must settle for a bus rapid transit system that will be completed at about the same time that Dr. Dre's Detox will come out.
  Such is the fate in the city of the Santa Maria, and all signs of inertia point to it continuing in the upcoming primary election. The great majority of city council and mayoral candidates are either Republicans or are straight out of the Democratic machine that yes, gave us the NHL All-Star Game but also gave us a city with shockingly unequal development, with one of the highest infant mortality rates nationwide despite having one of the world's leading children's hospitals, and with the second highest rate of police shootings per capita, where mentally ill people can be killed at the airport and no one even pretends to be upset, and with a growing immigrant community that the city has made no serious attempt to integrate, thinking that the riots of other cities can't happen here.
  We are told that this is the way it has to be. That we must not do too much to upset the business establishment that has brought us out of the days of Cowtown, the same business establishment that in its brochures advertising Columbus brags about its low wages and union membership. We are afraid of going back, we prefer to look toward the future. Of this, I am in agreement. There is no real past of Columbus worth romanticizing, but our visions of the future are constrained by our beliefs in what is possible.
  We are afraid of unleashing the power of the masses. Not the masses that lurk in NBC4 comment sections, but the real masses. I'm talking about unleashing the true liberatory potential of participatory democracy, of building a city of and for all of its people, not one that merely exists as an attractive potential for outside investment. Sometimes the contradictions of history fold in on themselves and provide opportunities for new directions. Columbus is in somewhat of a unique position, and no matter how much I get down on this city, I really truly believe that if it could happen anywhere, it could happen here.

Address all hate mail to

Appears in Issue: