General Interest

Sí, Yo Soy Afro: What it’s like to be Black in Argentina

By Sidnee King & Beth Stewart
Medill Reports

BUENOS AIRES — The myth that there are no Black people in Argentina is pervasive. Walking the streets of the nation’s cosmopolitan capital, Buenos Aires, you’ll likely find European influenced food, style, and architecture, all of it among mostly white faces.  Today, the city’s population is less than two percent black. But a once substantial community of African descendants has made an indelible imprint on even the most celebrated and exported aspects of Argentine culture.

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No more undercover food critics

By Olivia Lee
Medill Reports

It’s 2006 and Jeff Ruby, food critic for Chicago magazine, is being interviewed by the History Channel. In attempts to keep an undercover profile, like most food critics do, Ruby shaves his beard for the first time in 10 years and dyes his natural red hair jet black. To make himself even more unrecognizable, he decides to wear a baseball cap and glasses. Over a decade later, Ruby says the History Channel still airs his segment periodically, usually late at night. Despite his elaborate efforts, he almost always gets a text from a friend suspecting it’s him.

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Women’s professional sports leagues utilize social media to continue pre-pandemic growth

By Leah Vann
Medill Reports

Chicago Red Stars owner Arnim Whisler stands against the blue backdrop of a team-themed blanket, staring into a camera to address nearly 1,000 fans sitting in front of their screens on the other end of a Zoom call on Thursday, April 30, 2020.

It’s the annual unveiling of the new team’s jerseys, called a, “Kit Launch,” and it was supposed to be the largest ever jersey unveiling event, where 250 fans would gather at Pinstripes on Chicago’s riverfront raising their signature cocktails to toast what should’ve been the start of the most exciting season of the National Women’s Soccer League yet. While the in-person event would’ve been more fun, the online version of it attracted more fans from across the country.

The room for growth in women’s sports exceeds men’s. Before the pandemic’s impact, Deloitte projected that the rise of women’s sports in 2020 would dominate the sports industry and that “sponsors should consider getting involved now to capitalize on the new opportunities and avenues for engagement that this growth area may create.”

On March 12, that dream of a record-breaking season came to a halt when Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, making the NBA the first domino to fall in what was a chain of professional sports postponements and cancellations. The pandemic’s impact was especially disheartening for women’s professional sports, where teams were anxious to continue their pre-pandemic growth.

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Life as a COVID-19 nurse

By Michael Thomas
Medill Reports

Life as a nurse during COVID-19 has been challenging, and for nurse practitioner Ampora Gonzales, it’s become a new way of life.
“This has become my new normal, not seeing or spending time with my family,” Gonzales said.

Photo at top: Nurse practitioner Ampora Gonzales suited up to take care of COVID-19 patients. (Michael Thomas/MEDILL)

Managing your money during a pandemic

By Michael Thomas
Medill Reports

Managing your money during a pandemic can be difficult, and many were not prepared for this economic crisis. Financial advisor Nicole Lujan of Southern California says the time to start planning your financial future is now. “Preparing for your financial success is always smart and is something you should start now,” she said.

Photo at top: A stack of credit cards. (Michael Thomas/MEDILL)

Keeping the spirit: Religious groups adapt to COVID-19 but challenges persist

By Jake Holland
Medill Reports

Instead of preaching to a live crowd, replete with white-haired parishioners and toddlers wobbling up and down the nave, Pastor Ryan Kapple has found himself facing the empty pews, delivering sermons via livestream to no one in particular.

High-definition cameras track and record Kapple’s every move and turn of phrase, transmitting his services via Facebook Live to the 300 or so members who frequent Leawood Presbyterian Church in suburban Kansas City.

Like nearly every institution in American life, places of worship — churches, synagogues, mosques and the like — have been hit hard by the novel coronavirus and subsequent social distancing measures.

No longer are Christians able to physically gather as one, to sway to sweet hymnals and nod their heads when a verse speaks to them. No longer are Jews able to join together at the synagogue for weekly Shabbat dinners, and no longer are Muslims able to lay side by side in the mosque to pray.

But amidst the uncertainty and lack of physical meetings, religious leaders have turned to online platforms to practice their faith with community members. These measures are hardly a substitute for in-person worship, but they allow people of faith to find support from their community and their religion at a time when so much else remains up in the air.

“Gathering is essential to institutions of faith, and gathering is part of the human experience,” Kapple said. “It’s been a challenge, definitely, adjusting to our new normal.”

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Fort Myers NAACP Protest Calls for Unity

By Samone Blair
Medill Reports

Roughly 40 Floridians gathered Monday in downtown Fort Myers, Florida, for a protest organized by the NAACP of Lee County demanding justice after the police killing of George Floyd. A broad range of the community took to the stage to explain why they attended the protest.

Photo at top: A protestor encourages his mentee to carry the American flag while leading fellow protestors in a chant. (Samone Blair/MEDILL)

ASMR, Explained

By Justin Horowitz
Medill Reports

Autonomous sensory meridian response has taken over select corners of the Internet.

More commonly known as ASMR, the term was coined in 2010 as a way to describe the experience of brain tingles. Brain tingles are a sensation some people experience when exposed to triggers such as hearing whispers, tapping noises and receiving close personal attention.

Researchers at the University of Sheffield have studied the physiological effects of ASMR. Their research found ASMR has a relaxing sensation on viewers while also creating a stimulating response. More research needs to be done to understand how ASMR interacts with the human brain on a deeper level.

The ASMR YouTube community has expanded rapidly over the past 10 years. Some ASMR content creators have garnered millions of subscribers and even brand endorsements.

Photo at top: Gibi ASMR creates sound triggers in one of her YouTube videos. (Courtesy of Gibi ASMR)

“There was no cool off period”: An update on Hong Kong

By Rikki Li
Medill Reports

Since June of last year, Hong Kong has remained in a seemingly constant state of unrest as police and pro-democracy protesters clashed over legislation.

What began as a mass procession in the streets against mainland China’s proposed extradition bill—which would allow for deportation of fugitives in Hong Kong to China for trial—devolved into frequent protests, strikes and alleged police brutality. Images of flying rubber bullets, uprooted bricks and billowing clouds of tear gas illustrated the growing animosity. Even after the bill was revoked in September, protesters responded that it was “too little, too late,” and the violent demonstrations persisted.

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