Social Justice

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.”

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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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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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Protesters fight for undocumented immigrants

By Nikita Mandhani

Chicagoans woke up Tuesday morning to word that demonstrators were blocking traffic on Congress Parkway at LaSalle Street. They were protesting the nation’s deportation policies. Twelve were arrested. Here’s what’s left behind after the protests for undocumented families who are fighting for #Not1More deportation.

Individuals protest against ICE raids and deportation (Nikita Mandhani/Medill)

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South Side Diabetes Project Changing Nutritional Norms

By Anna Boisseau

Passersby at an Auburn Gresham Save-a-Lot sport a mixture of confusion and annoyance as they squeeze past the small gathering of 10, who are listening to Mary Lucy, a dietetic technician, speak about the appropriate daily portion size for servings of fruit.

“Bananas have a lot of sugar, right?” asks Gregory Thompson, one of the participants huddled near the orange selection.

“Yes, and that’s why you can only eat half a banana,” Lucy responds, flipping through her colorful measuring cups meant to demonstrate the healthy amount of carbs.

The shoppers are here for a grocery store tour by the South Side Diabetes Project. Founded by Dr. Monica Peek and Dr. Marshall Chin of the University of Chicago, one way the project combats the high rate of diabetes on Chicago’s South Side is through community outreach programs like this one. They have formed relationships with businesses that don’t typically partner with medical organizations, like Walgreens and Save-a-Lot.
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