Tuesday, March 28, 2017

New study finds segregation costs Chicago billions in income, tens of thousands of college degrees, and hundreds of lives each year

Posted By on 03.28.17 at 12:01 AM

The remaining rowhouses of the Cabrini-Green public housing development stand empty as a new upscale apartment building is erected nearby. - RICH HEIN/SUN-TIMES
  • Rich Hein/Sun-Times
  • The remaining rowhouses of the Cabrini-Green public housing development stand empty as a new upscale apartment building is erected nearby.

A new study released Tuesday by the Metropolitan Planning Council found that Chicago-area segregation is costing the regional economy more than $4 billion in lost income, 83,000 college degrees, and hundreds of lives lost to homicides each year. The nonprofit urban planning and development group hopes to stimulate new policy solutions by demonstrating how racial and economic segregation leaves everyone in Chicagoland worse off, not just the people living in segregated areas.

The study was undertaken together with researchers from the Urban Institute and analyzed U.S. Census data going back to 1990 as well as economic indicators. It found that among the country's 100 largest metropolitan areas, Chicagoland is the tenth-most segregated region for African-Americans, the ninth-most segregated for Latinos, and the 20th-most economically segregated metro area. The authors also found that Chicagoland lags far behind metropolitan areas with comparable demographics in its rate of desegregation. Though white-black segregation in the area is declining by about 10 percent every 20 years, at the current rate it would take us until 2070 to reach today's national median levels.

"With lost income, lives, and potential on the line, we don't have that kind of time," the report states. "We need more deliberate interventions to accelerate our progress."

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Eviction filings in Chicago appear to be on the decline

Posted By on 03.22.17 at 04:44 PM

An eviction in process in 2011 - JOHN MOORE/GETTY IMAGES
  • John Moore/Getty Images
  • An eviction in process in 2011

"How many evictions take place in Chicago every year?" is a simple question without an easy answer.

When the Reader began reporting on evictions in December, we found that the last comprehensive study of Cook County eviction court was conducted in 2003 and that data about eviction court proceedings isn't systematically reported by any county agency. Furthermore, in contrast to foreclosure-related information, there's a dearth of information about eviction trends in the county over time.

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

How do you stop whitewashing Chicago theater?

Posted By on 08.11.16 at 12:30 PM

Laurence Olivier (l) and Laurence Fishburne as Othello. - SUN-TIMES ARCHIVE
  • Sun-Times Archive
  • Laurence Olivier (l) and Laurence Fishburne as Othello.

Nearly 300 members of the Chicago theater community gathered at a town hall meeting  at Victory Gardens Theater Tuesday night to discuss the problem of a lack of roles for performers of color and why, despite the many black, Latino, and Asian actors in Chicago, some of these roles still go to white actors.

The meeting was precipitated by Porchlight Theatre's announcement last week that it had cast a non-Latino actor in the lead role of Usnavi in its upcoming production of Quiara Alegría Hudes and Lin-Manuel Miranda's 2007 musical In the Heights.

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Friday, August 5, 2016

Director Tod Lending discusses racial segregation in Chicago and his new documentary All the Difference

Posted By on 08.05.16 at 05:55 PM

All the Difference
  • All the Difference

Tod Lending's documentary All the Difference, which is set in Chicago and screens this weekend at the 22nd annual Black Harvest Film Festival, is an inspirational account of black male ambition and perseverance in the face of some harsh statistics. According to information presented in the documentary, in Chicago's most underprivileged communities, only about 50 percent of young black men graduate from high school; of those who do graduate, fewer than half will go on to college, and even fewer will graduate from college within four to six years.

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

What does it mean to be a white ally?

Posted By on 07.21.16 at 05:02 PM

Demonstrators protest outside of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's home on December 29, 2015. - SCOTT OLSON/GETTY IMAGES
  • Scott Olson/Getty Images
  • Demonstrators protest outside of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's home on December 29, 2015.

A line of white people snaked around the entrance of Saint Agatha's Catholic Church in North Lawndale Wednesday. Inside the sanctuary the Chicago chapter of Showing up for Racial Justice (SURJ) was convening the first in a series of workshops called "Ally Is a Verb: Finding Your Role in the Movement for Black Liberation."

There had been such immense interest in the event that SURJ had to cap attendance at 200 people and convene a second, simultaneous workshop for another 80 people in Wicker Park.

The Chicago chapter of SURJ is part of a national network that aims to educate and mobilize white people "to act as part of a multiracial majority for justice with passion and accountability"—in other words, to bring white people into conversations about racism and their roles in perpetuating it, and mobilize them to collaborate with nonwhite people working to counteract racial injustice. Founded in response to racist backlash in the wake of Barack Obama's election, many SURJ chapters have transitioned from education- to action-oriented work since the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson almost two years ago. This workshop was intended to prompt white people to grapple with their privilege and explore ways they could participate in the movement for racial justice.

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Rahm Emanuel’s plan for a healthy, segregated Chicago

Posted By on 05.23.16 at 12:27 PM

An abandoned graystone in North Lawndale. - DANIELLE A. SCRUGGS
  • Danielle A. Scruggs
  • An abandoned graystone in North Lawndale.
Healthy Chicago 2.0, the city's new four-year public health plan, "aims to ensure that every child raised in Chicago, regardless of neighborhood and background, has the resources and opportunities to live a healthy life," according to Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

That's a grand goal—but of course it's easier to set goals than achieve them.

The Department of Public Health has been rolling out the plan at a series of community meetings, the last of which will be Wednesday evening at Hamilton Park in Englewood. The 86-page report outlining the project, published in late March, is bold in its diagnosis but timid in its prescription. It pulls no punches in detailing the shameful inequities in Chicago: while the children in predominantly white neighborhoods already have the "resources and opportunities to live a healthy life," the children in many black and brown neighborhoods are growing up with their backs against the wall. 

But although the report offers 30 goals, 82 objectives, and more than 200 "actionable" strategies to diminish Chicago's health inequities, reducing segregation isn't one of them.

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Here's what's missing from the Police Accountability Task Force report

Posted By on 04.21.16 at 06:00 PM

  • Sun-Times
A statistic recently cited from coast to coast: 74 percent of those shot by Chicago police from 2008 through 2015 were black, although black people make up only a third of the city's population.

It's from the report by the Police Accountability Task Force, published last week. The statistic "gives validity to the widely held belief that the police have no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color," the report asserts.

The New York Times agreed with that assessment in an editorial the day after the report was published. "The sense of injustice and grievance that pervades the black community . . . is borne out by the police data," the editorial said, citing the shooting statistic. The Associated Press News Service cited the stat in its story, which was headlined, "Report: Chicago police have 'no regard' for minority lives." Atlantic Cities ran virtually the same headline over a story that cited the "devastating" shooting disparity.

The task force had to realize that its "no regard for the sanctity of life" assertion about Chicago police would dominate the initial media coverage and drown out most everything else that the 190-page report offers. 

And it offers a lot. But the report doesn't quite connect the dots on what else may be behind that shooting statistic.

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Hopped up on fictions about crack, Clinton defends his 1994 crime bill

Posted By on 04.14.16 at 07:00 AM

Bill Clinton spars with protesters at a rally last week in Philadelphia. - ED HILLE/THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER VIA AP
  • Ed Hille/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP
  • Bill Clinton spars with protesters at a rally last week in Philadelphia.

With a wag of his finger last Thursday, Bill Clinton admonished Black Lives Matter protesters in Philadelphia to "Tell the truth."

That was rich. Clinton telling others to be truthful is like Donald Trump exhorting everyone to be more humble—one thinks of the intern that Slick Willie didn't really have sexual relations with, and the pot he tried in college but never inhaled. And there's also the opportunism that has marked his political career—a willingness to say and do whatever the polls suggested should be said and done. As Clinton has always known too well, the truth doesn't really set you free, and it certainly doesn't get you elected.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Twelve years later, a nightmare becomes a book

Posted By on 02.02.16 at 07:00 AM


A cutlass descends and the hand of merchant banker Isaac Randall is severed at the wrist. The pirate captain holds it high, removes the ring, and flips the hand over the rail. As his wife, Betsy, watches helplessly, the prancing pirates lift her three young children—Alice, Mary, and the baby, David—and finally Isaac himself and throw each of them into the sea.

This scene—which takes place aboard the Sally Dash, the sailing ship carrying the Randalls from England to Virginia in 1713—begins a new novel, One Day's Tale. It's a book brought to us in the modern manner—that is, without the dubious benefits of agents and publishing houses making commercial calculations. One Day's Tale began 12 years ago with a dream: its author, Lois Barliant, a retired Chicago public school teacher, had a nightmare about a severed wrist. "Give me your ring," said a voice as she slept, and—as she tells the story today—she would not allow herself to wake up until she knew more: who spoke, who was there, what happened to them next.

The dream did not recede. The next day she began to write.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Remembering Nelson Peery, Chicagoan and dyed-in-the-wool communist

Posted By on 11.03.15 at 12:30 PM

Peery died September 6 at age 92. - (COURTESY OF BRETT JELINEK)
  • (Courtesy of Brett Jelinek)
  • Peery died September 6 at age 92.

"I owe my life to the comrades in this room—and to Nelson."

About 100 union members and organizers, rumpled leftist academics, nattily dressed welfare-rights activists, and "revolutionaries" from throughout the country spent Saturday afternoon in the Workers United union hall, memorializing Chicago activist Nelson Peery, who died September 6 at 92. 

A dozen or so people nodded in response to the speaker, union staffer Richard Monje. His voice built to a climax, like an evangelical pastor issuing a communist altar call. 

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