Ep. 119: The South Side of Chicago is Not a Problem to be Solved, It is a Home for the American Spirit

Published: Sept. 1, 2022, 10:06 p.m.

Sudhir Venkatesh is the William B Ransford Professor of Sociology and African-American Studies at Columbia University. His books include Floating City and Gang Leader for a Day.

Sudhir Venkatesh’s new book is The Tomorrow Game: Rival Teenagers, Their Race for a Gun, and a Community United to Save Them.

He reflects upon his 30-year relationship with the South Side of Chicago and how racism and classism distort the complex truth about that community and the people who live there.

Sudhir Venkatesh also explains the importance of listening, respect, and allowing people to tell their own life stories and how sociologists – and people more generally in this moment of democracy crisis and other troubles – can benefit from learning that lesson.

In this wide-ranging conversation, he also grapples with how American higher education and its most elite institutions have failed to rise to the challenge in this moment of ascendant fascism, the coronavirus pandemic, gangster capitalism, and other great crises.

Sudhir Venkatesh also shares his thoughts on the critically acclaimed HBO TV series The Wire, and how contrary to the wishes of many white liberals and others who want easy answers while being entertained, it is not some type of definitive text and the authoritative final word about “urban poverty” and crime in America.

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