In the last year we in America have seen a slew of race related crime. The subsequent deaths of Rekia Boyd, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Mike Brown, Freddie Gray and others have been the focal point of many conversations. Unfortunately most of those conversations don't end well. I have had many conversations about issues that plague the black community, ranging from police brutality to the common misconceptions that are often spread through bad media representations. From these many conversations I have come to one conclusion. It is nearly impossible to have white friends while living in a white supremacist country.
I am not against the prospect of interracial friendship, but such friendships are hard to maintain when so many of your white friends have diminished your entire culture to rap music, twerking, and the myth that is black on black crime. Navigating race talk is a choreographed chaos of toe stepping and boundary crossing. I often find that white people are more likely to listen to other white people on Fox News about black people than are to listen to me, an actual black person.
There's never a dull day in the Loop. And there's certainly never a dull day at a City Council meeting. Wednesday morning's meeting got off to a running start as protestors of all sorts packed the second floor of the City Hall building outside the council chamber.
They held signs that said things such as "Save Dyett" (a high school slated for closure) and "Mayor Emanuel where's the justice for black children?" Multiple groups were gathered to give press conferences on upcoming ordinances or to express their displeasure with the City Council. They ranged from the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Equal Access Across Chicago, We Charge Genocide, Chicago Votes, #ChiStops, Asian Americans Advancing Justice and others.
While Illinois does not impose such costs, other related aspects of election law are very comparable between the two states. With the case Summers v. Smart [PDF] still pending in U.S. District Court in Chicago, the Pennsylvania ruling may portend the end of the hated "challenge system" in Illinois. In the process, ballot access could expand greatly -- especially for third parties, but also for "maverick" candidates running in major party primaries and for Chicago aldermanic candidates. And if the General Assembly is smart, the electoral process changes could involve the institution of filing fees, which could be an entirely new revenue source at several levels of government.
The only new charter school proposed for anywhere on the North Side this year is facing strong opposition -- from the advisory group convened by CPS to review their proposal.
An outright majority of members of the North Side Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC), a CPS-convened citizen group, has signed on to a formal letter requesting that charter operator Intrinsic withdraw their proposal for a third high school. The letter -- the full text of which can be found here -- was delivered the morning of July 23.
Intrinsic already operates one high school on the Northwest Side at 4540 W. Belmont Ave. Last year, Intrinsic also received conditional approval for a second high school. The second school has been in the news because there is still no actual location for it -- and this is at the core of the problems identified with the Intrinsic #3 proposal.
News video startup TouchVision today released a short documentary titled Brave in Chiraq: Countdown to Summer, focusing at how youth leaders with the ARK of St. Sabina are attempting to keep young people safe this summer.
The temporary heavy equipment bridge through the west lagoon.
Jackson Park's Wooded Island is currently closed to the public while it is being reworked by a consortium of groups led by the Army Corps of Engineers, but last Saturday the Chicago Park District offered a special tour of the island's rehabilitation and Yoko Ono's in-process sculpture,"Sky Landing."
Chiraq, Spike Lee's new movie filming this summer on the city's South Side, has stirred the contentious pot of Chicago public opinion into a boil over the name of the film. Aldermen William Burns (4th) and David Moore (17th) have spoken out against the title and what they see as a negative branding effect it could have on their communities. Burns has proposed legislation in City Council that would urge Illinois lawmakers to deny any tax credits to the production of the film. Even Mayor Rahm Emanuel has spoken out against the film.
Chicago Police Officer Diana Varga answers questions from children and youth at the Foglia Family and Youth Center in Chicago's East Garfield Park neighborhood. (Photo by Emily Gray Brosious)
When police officers couldn't make it to a scheduled basketball match with youth in the East Garfield Park neighborhood last Wednesday, 11th District Chicago Police Officer Diana Varga swooped in to save the day with an impromptu meet-and-greet of sorts.
Dressed in plain athletic clothes, the outgoing young officer spoke about policing in Chicago to a few dozen people gathered in the gymnasium. Then she opened up for a question and answer session. Children and teens sat cross-legged on the basketball court, eagerly raising their hands to ask Officer Varga about her background, her police work and what it takes to become an officer.
Image: Confederate flag supporter Karen Cooper shares her story in the documentary "Battle Flag"
As the nation mourned the victims of the terrorist attack in Charleston, South Carolina, images of suspected gunman Dylan Roof featuring the Confederate flag sparked a movement calling for the flag to be removed from statehouses and store shelves. But some claim the flag is not a racist icon and should remain as a symbol of Southern heritage.
Battle Flag brings the personal stories of people on both sides of this debate into focus. By combining short documentary interviews with additional resources, the multimedia project adds some much-needed depth to the discussion.
Construction equipment on the bed of the future Thornton Reservoir. Trucks on the Tri-State Tollway can be seen above the quarry.
On Saturday, I joined the Southeast Environmental Task Force (SETF) on one of its tours of Chicago's goliath infrastructure. The tour featured the future site of the Thornton Composite Reservoir, the largest such reservoir in the world, and a Deep Tunnel pumping station 350' below ground at the Calumet Water Reclamation Plant. Both are part of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD)'s gargantuan Tunnel and Reservoir Plan, the multi-decade, multi-billion dollar project designed to protect the Chicago region from the flooding and pollution caused by overflowing sewer and stormwater infrastructure.
My question last year was not so much whether Vermont's junior Senator would run for President, but rather, if he were to do so, how he would: as a Democrat, as a Green, or as an Independent. The fourth option, of course, was not to run at all. But that decision was likely already off the table. Eugene McCarthy once remarked that "It's harder to stop running for president than it is to start." Once Sanders was running, he wasn't going to stop. He just needed to decide how. In the end, of course, he decided to run as a Democrat.
Photo: Silvester on Flickr The further away we get from the Fourth of July, the less socially acceptable — and still totally illegal — it is to shoot flaming balls into the air of a crowded urban environment. I know,... More...
It's not surprising that some of Mayor Emanuel's sympathizers and supporters are confusing people's substantive disputes with the mayor as the effect of poor marketing on his part. It's exactly this insular worldview that has gotten the mayor in hot... More...