Social Justice

Syrian refugees struggle with American schools

By Nikita Mandhani

Firas Jawish arrived in Chicago with his family as a Syrian refugee in September 2014. Despite being a doctor, he makes ends meet by working in a data entry job at a clinic. One of his daily concerns is finding an appropriate school for his 3-year-old son, Hasan.

Continue reading

Englewood comeback proves ingenuity is homegrown

By Rebekah Frumkin

With Englewood set to welcome a Whole Foods on 63rd and Halsted and an adjacent Starbucks this year, the South Side neighborhood is battling stereotypes that it’s an unlikely choice for expansion.

“It was almost a national joke, Whole Foods coming into Englewood,” says Jim Harbin, program director at the Greater Englewood Community Development Corporation. “That really stunned some people, initially.”

Continue reading

Gallery founder aims to raise awareness of sexual abuse through art

By Carlos D. Williamson

Jean Cozier didn’t know she’d be the owner of an art gallery at 61 – let alone one that showcased the works of survivors of sexual abuse and rape.

Cozier still isn’t sure this is what she was meant to do. She just knows she can’t stop.

Continue reading

Black women activists focus on prison pipeline, joining the fight for social justice

By Branden Hampton

Eighty percent of prison inmates report that they were in foster care as youth, and the foster care-to-prison pipeline must be dismantled, according to social justice activist Charity Tolliver.

“When we look at the boom of the prison system in the ’80s, one of the systems that also exploded at the same time was the foster care system,” said Tolliver. “It went from being 20,000 [children] overnight to up to a quarter of a million. Today there are half a million [foster] children.”

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Pop-up library celebrates black women

By Meggie Morris

Earlier this month, Scheherazade Tillet watched an older, African-American man take the stage at Breathing Room, a recurring event that inspires proactive conversation about transformative justice through art and performance.

Holding Michelle Alexander’s book “The New Jim Crow,” the man admitted to the audience he had only just finished it, before inviting the youngest person in the room to take it from him, said Tillet, an artist and feminist leader. The memory has stuck with her.

Continue reading

Former Gov. Quinn urges Rauner to pass MAP grant funding bill

By Yingxu Jane Hao

Recipients of the Monetary Award Program (MAP) tuition grants from over 130 colleges and universities in Illinois might be the next victims of the state budget deadlock. The program, funded through Senate Bill 2043, is likely to be stalled since Governor Bruce Rauner said he would veto the bill.

As Springfield lawmakers handed the bill to Gov. Rauner on Tuesday, college students in Chicago and their supporters, including former Gov. Pat Quinn, rallied at the Thompson Center in Chicago, pressing Rauner to sign the bill.

“The people in Illinois should not allow this great program which has existed for a half century to be eliminated by the Governor,” said Quinn. “I think the Governor will be very wrong-headed to do that.”

Continue reading

Activists debate over black-only space

By Meggie Morris

Two weeks after Buzzfeed leaked emails from a University of Chicago fraternity, revealing four years of racist and misogynistic sentiment, students, faculty and local organizers gathered last week to discuss the complexities of racism and activism.

As social justice movements gain momentum and exposure nation-wide, activists remain concerned about the balance between exclusive and collaborative spaces needed for effective activism. While students and younger activists voiced the need for exclusivity, professors said sustainable movements require coalition work.

Continue reading

Chicago men stand up for women’s reproductive freedom

By Enrica Nicoli Aldini

They will never experience an unintended pregnancy or seek an abortion or confront the hurdles often associated with the choice to do so. However, a group of politically-engaged men in Chicago believe they have a lot to say and do in the fight for women’s rights. They are coming together with the organization Men4Choice to engage, educate and activate men in expanding and protecting women’s reproductive rights.

“We are very conscious of the fact that men have a role to play,” said Oren Jacobson, Men4Choice co-founder and executive director. “There’s a lot more at stake in reproductive choice that men tend to believe. This is an issue that affects the women in our lives. If we’re not willing to stand up for them, shame on us.”

Continue reading

Rauner pleads to Assembly on budget, gets booed by hundreds of protesters

By Morgan Gilbard

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s annual budget address to the Legislature was upstaged by approximately 400 protesters who stormed the State Capitol on Wednesday afternoon and booed the governor upon his departure.

The protesters’ chants condemning higher education cuts were audible from inside the General Assembly chamber, where Rauner tried to placate Democrats with new attempts to compromise on a solution to resolve the eight-month budget impasse.

Continue reading