All posts by marisaendicott

Resettled refugees face challenges in U.S. education system

By Marisa Endicott

With the Syrian refugee crisis intensifying in Europe and debate stateside over the deportations of Central American asylum seekers, it is easy to get wrapped up in the ideological and political rhetoric instead of getting to know the day-to-day experiences and obstacles resettled refugees face. Access to education is a main hurdle.

“Refugee families have fled violence, but one of the biggest reasons that they want to be here in the United States is for the access to education,” said Ashley Marine, program director at Girl Forward, an educational nonprofit for refugee girls. “The American dream is real for these families.”
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Undocumented students fight for funding amidst state education crisis

By Marisa Endicott

An undocumented immigrant, Carla Navoa left the University of Illinois at Chicago during her junior year after anxiety and depression over her financial limitations and uncertain future became overwhelming.

Her parents, immigrants from the Philippines, borrowed from friends and worked extra hours to help Navoa and her two sisters pay their tuition, but it was still a struggle. Navoa said working part time to pay for school while not knowing if she could utilize her degree after graduating was a huge burden.

Navoa is not alone. Undocumented immigrants account for 4 percent of Illinois’ total population, and 60 percent of them live in Cook County, according to a 2014 report by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR). Twenty-six percent of the state’s undocumented population is under 25.
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West Side organizations empower a new generation of media makers

By Marisa Endicott

Recently, Channing Dungey was named head of ABC entertainment, making her the first African-American president of a major network. But the appointment highlights the continued lack of diversity in mainstream media.

This inequity is just as pervasive in the news media. Minorities accounted for 12.75 percent of the workforce at daily newspapers in 2015, according to a census by the American Society of News Editors (ASNE). That percentage has remained almost unchanged over the last 15 years.

Still, some organizations are working to change the racially stagnant media landscape by giving young Chicagoans in marginalized communities the tools to empower themselves and become the next generation of media makers.

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Musical celebrating Chicago’s black cultural history to debut at the Chicago Theater

By Marisa Endicott

For one night this Saturday, Bronzeville is taking over the Chicago Theater. “Bronzeville The Musical” tells the story of the Great Migration, the exodus of African-Americans from southern states to northern cities during the greater part of the 20th century.

The musical, an original production by the Chicago-based Mahdi Theatre Company, celebrates the arrival of African-American communities in Chicago as they faced continued discrimination in the North.

Ten years ago, Margaret Mahdi, the musical’s writer and director, discovered that Chicago had a renaissance that was second only to Harlem’s. Bronzeville, originally dubbed the Black Metropolis, was the thriving commercial and cultural center of black Chicago.
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An unconventional approach to Chicago’s misunderstood gun violence

By Marisa Endicott

January saw its highest death toll from gun violence since 2000 in Chicago this year. There have been over 416 shootings in 2016 to date, 32 of them over this past weekend.

The numbers highlight the deep roots of gun violence in Chicago and the city’s inability to combat the problem.

While overall crime has decreased more than 37 percent since 2011, according to the Chicago Police Department at year’s end, shootings rose in 2015, and certain Chicago neighborhoods bear the brunt of gun violence.

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First Chicago Black Restaurant Week celebrates community and brings in new business

By Marisa Endicott

The first annual Chicago Black Restaurant Week concluded Saturday. Seventeen restaurants from the city and suburbs participated in the event launched by social media specialist Lauran Smith. Smith chose the second week in February to correspond with Negro History Week, the precursor to Black History Month founded by Carter G. Woodson.

“It needed to happen because a lot of the black restaurants are kind of off the map,” Smith said. “The goal is to spotlight restaurants that have phenomenal cuisine…just to make sure that they are recognized.”

Smith and participating restaurateurs used social media and appearances on local outlets like Windy City Live and WBEZ to drive interest, and it appeared to work.
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Chicago festival celebrates hip-hop arts’ positive impact

By Marisa Endicott

Some might claim that “hip-hop is dead,” but the 7th Annual Winter Block Party for Chicago’s Hip Hop Arts this Saturday suggested otherwise.

“If you go to the spaces, if you go to the open mics, it is alive and well,” said Damon Williams, a performer and activist emceeing for the event. “Hip-hop is a culture that is inherent in people’s spirits.”

Nonprofit Young Chicago Authors and public radio stations WBEZ and Vocalo hosted the all-day showcase that took place at the Metro concert hall in Wrigleyville. The festivities culminated in a mixtape release concert featuring young up-and-coming spoken word poets, singers and rappers from Louder than a Bomb, a Chicago youth poetry festival.
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Seniors still feel impact of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Marisa Endicott

Imam Dawud Yemani remembers exactly where he was when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. He was in the Booker T. Washington community center in Erie, Pennsylvania, when a girl came running down the stairs shouting that Dr. King had been shot.

“I had a lot of bitterness in me against the system of discrimination and oppression,” Yemani said. And although I was of a more militant persuasion at the time, “just hearing him – his diction, his speech – was inspiring to me. I felt his spirit… good God almighty that man could talk.”

Yemani is a resident of the Zelda Ormes Apartments, a senior public housing complex on the Near North Side.

On Saturday morning, Chicago Cares, a nonprofit connecting volunteers to community service opportunities around the city, held its monthly breakfast and bingo at Zelda Ormes. In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, volunteers served hot breakfast and offered craft projects to about 40 low-income senior citizens.
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Going door-to-door: protecting Albany Park residents against immigration raids

By Marisa Endicott

Almost 70 people chose to spend Saturday’s wet and dreary afternoon walking door-to-door in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood.

Volunteers turned out in response to the deportation campaign launched by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that targets recent Central American immigrants with deportation orders. Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD) held the door-knocking campaign to inform residents of their rights and how to protect themselves in the case of a raid.
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Latinos demand equal access to affordable housing

By Marisa Endicott

While the great majority of public housing residents in Chicago are African-American, Latino leaders are looking to public and subsidized housing to alleviate displacement and gentrification pressures in neighborhoods with a strong Latino presence, like Pilsen and Logan Square.

With increasing attention on the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA), there are more calls for subsidized housing options for Latinos and even threats of legal action should they be ignored. Continue reading