All posts by Katie Rice

Chicago’s undergraduate transgender students face disparate housing accommodations

By Katie Rice
Medill Reports

Jennifer, an upper-level student at DePaul University in Chicago, has lived on campus for her entire university career. She was fairly happy with housing on campus until a minor change in her academic record nearly forced her to move dorm rooms.

Jennifer, who is using a pseudonym to protect her identity, is a transgender woman. Though she’s been out to family and close friends for a couple years, she started medically transitioning four months ago. Recently, to mark another milestone in her transition, she decided to change her preferred gender in the university’s academic portal — used to access information such as tuition, classes and grades — to female. A few weeks later, she got an email from the housing department saying the university would have to move her to a room with a female roommate.

This email came while Jennifer was busy preparing for an end-of-semester project and exam crunch at DePaul, so she wouldn’t have had time to move even if she could have. Besides, moving to a room with a roommate who identified as female since birth presented other issues.
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Illinois embraces indigenous legacy through ethnobotany

By Katie Rice
Medill Reports

When Gina Roxas was about four years old, she was hospitalized with a diagnosis of pneumonia.

Heartbroken at being separated from her family, she ripped the IVs out of her arms, cried and refused to eat while in the hospital. Her condition deteriorated, and doctors had to restrain her.

One day, her father came to visit her and told doctors he’d see what he could do about his daughter’s illness.

“He grabbed me, wrapped me in a blanket and walked out the door,” Roxas said. “And he [carried me to] my great-grandmother’s (house) and gave me to her. And she healed me. She healed me with her prayers, with her teas and with her herbal rubs. It’s not scientifically proven that I was healed, but I’m still here, right?”
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Northwestern’s Sand Creek Massacre Commemoration honors victims, recognizes founder’s tie to the massacre

By Katie Rice
Medill Reports

Otto Braided Hair stands at the lectern, praying in the Cheyenne language. It’s a prayer to “focus thoughts on the future,” he says. And though the majority of the people assembled don’t speak Cheyenne, the sentiment transcends language barriers. Everyone in the room undeerstands, from the people standing with heads bowed and hands clasped reverently to those sitting and silently reflecting.

They gathered at Northwestern University last Saturday afternoon to commemorate the Sand Creek Massacre. Members of the Northwestern University community, the Chicago American Indian community and descendants of victims of the Colorado massacre are here in remembrance of those killed and in acknowledgement of Northwestern University’s connection to the massacre itself.
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Chicago activists rally in Refuse Fascism march

By Katie Rice
Medill Reports

Approximately 50 people gathered in Federal Plaza Saturday afternoon to rally with activist group Refuse Fascism’s Chicago chapter in protest of Trump administration policies. During “In the Name of Humanity, Trump/Pence Must Go!” the group denounced the administration and urged people to speak out against what they see as the development of fascism in America.

After the rally, protesters marched to Trump Tower and gathered across the river from the building, carrying signs with slogans such as “This Nightmare Must End.”

Refuse Fascism groups marched in other cities Saturday including Cleveland, New York and San Francisco.

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“Native American” costumes harm indigenous communities, activists say

By Katie Rice
Medill Reports

Lingerie company Yandy made headlines this fall for releasing, and later pulling, a sexy “Handmaid’s Tale”-inspired costume from its online store. But the company sends a different message with its continued defense of its “Sexy Native American” line, activists say.

Activists took to Twitter with the hashtag #CancelYandy to decry the company’s appropriation of traditional American Indian regalia and disregard for the unique identities of distinct tribal groups in the line of risqué costumes. The conflict crops up every Halloween season. But this year, the presentation of a petition signed by thousands of people resulted in a protest and threats of arrest Wednesday at Yandy headquarters in Phoenix, said Amanda Blackhorse, a Diné activist from Phoenix.

“When you have so many Native American voices telling you, ‘This is wrong, we don’t feel appreciated by this, we don’t feel honored by this, we feel insulted (and) our community is hurting because of these costumes, I don’t see how anyone wearing them can say that they support us,” said Zoe Dejecacion, the creator of the petition and a makeup artist from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

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Education, voting can empower America, says labor activist Dolores Huerta


By Katie Rice
Medill Reports

Labor activist Dolores Huerta thinks America is standing at a political and social crossroads to do the right thing for workers, women and people of color — especially with the upcoming midterm elections.

“We have to support each other,” Huerta said. “We have to protect each other. And we can stop this whole thing of hating somebody else because they happen to be different.”
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“Dancing for community” at the 65th Annual Chicago Powwow

By Katie Rice
Medill Reports

Poised on their toes, the dancers pivot around the room to a thrumming drum beat. Jingling bells accompany their movements as feathers sway from fans, regalia and headdresses in a whirl of color and texture.

The celebration echoes far beyond the gymnasium of DePaul College Prep High School into the balmy October afternoon.
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