Memphis is messed up. We are one of the two most huge and also most totally fucked up cities in the whole of the US. While 4 years ago, my next door neighbor was screaming that closing down the projects was screwing up our working/middle class neighborhood, all of we residents of the inner city now have lots of present insights that would be valuable to academia. But nobody ever thinks it’s potentially valuable to just go out and talk to inner city residents in Memphis.

I’m seeing one of the end products of welfare reform, where single mamas live with their mamas and most all (non-gang) adults in the overcrowded houses are working 40-60 hours a week. I’m seeing latchkey kids ruthlessly targeted by gangsters to form an affiliation. The resulting gang-membership prevalence for kids ages 9-16 is exceeding 75%. I have watched this happen, but it was not “captured” by science.

 I think the U of M needs to step up and start observing and documenting shit as it happens. Or, somebody, other than what can (rightfully) be dismissed as anecdote.

I don’t mind us being the “perfect little urban lab” as long as the disastrous results are at least documented.  Otherwise, it’s just a human rights travesty.