By Vishakha Darbha
The Chicago Public Library hosts a Cantonese opera every Wednesday and Saturday, performed by the Zhaoqiu Chinese American ART Center. Opened last August, Chinatown has seen a growth in the number of new institutions, including a Park District Field House.
Chicago invested $19 Million in building the library. It is designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, which also designed New York City’s One World Trade Center. This was part of the Chinatown Community Vision Plan, a step toward investing in the area. Chicago’s Chinatown is thriving, unlike others in the rest of the nation, with the population increasing by more than 25% from 2000 to 2010.
The Chinese-American community in Chicago has recently been energized by various political events. A large crowd of Asian-Americans came together to protest against NYPD officer Peter Liang’s conviction on Feb. 20, while 2nd District State Representative Theresa Mah has emerged as the first Asian-American legislator in the Illinois General Assembly.
Asian-Americans share their perception on the increasing visibility of the Chinese-American community, during a Cantonese Opera performance at the Chicago Public Library (Vishakha Darbha/MEDILL)
Photo at Top: Cantonese Opera Performer at the Chinatown Branch of the Chicago Public Library (Vishakha Darbha/MEDILL)
By Shanshan Wang
Thousands of people, mostly Chinese-Americans, marched in downtown Chicago Saturday, calling justice for former NYPD officer Peter Liang, who was convicted of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a black man in 2014.
The protesters chanted along the way, holding national flags, signs and banners with slogans conveying the message that selective justice is not justice, and that Liang is a scapegoat. Many of them have been following the news and sharing the protest information on WeChat, the most popular social media platform among Chinese community.
On Saturday, throngs of protesters, many from Chicago’s Chinese American community, decried the guilty verdict in the police shooting trail of Peter Liang in New York. Liang was convicted of shooting Akai Gurley, an African American, in 2014 while on the job as a New York City cop. Many protesters said race is not an issue here and that their main appeal was to have justice in law. However, at least one black woman insisted black lives matter. (Yunfei Zhao / MEDILL)
Continue reading One bullet, two victims: Protesters rally for convicted NYPD officer
By Hannah Gebresilassie and Vishakha Darbha
Most college students use coffee to survive long nights and tedious assignments, but in Ethiopia and Eritrea, coffee means much more than that.
Ethiopia, globally known as the birthplace of coffee, is famous for “buna,” a coffee-making ceremony that involves roasting, grinding and brewing beans while partaking in a community-oriented tradition. Proper social etiquette includes smelling the roasted beans before they are ground and having three cups of coffee with the people present.
“Abol” is the term used for the first cup, “Tona” is for the second and “Baraka” is the final cup. Sugar and salt can be added but usually not milk.
Continue reading Buna: The Art of Making Ethiopian Coffee
By Yunfei Zhao
Where in Chicago are kids actually encouraged to touch things?
The Museum of Science and Industry is inviting Chicago-area children ages 3-11 to do just that with free admission till the end of February.
“We play a large role in the community,” said spokeswoman Renee Mailhiot, noting that a Legos exhibit is coming in March. Mailhiot said they aimed to make sure more hands-on science knowledge is accessible to everyone.
Continue reading Museum of Science and Industry lets Kids Get Touchy-Feely — For Free — in February
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)
Continue reading Protesters fight for undocumented immigrants
By Nikita Mandhani
Hema Rajagopalan, an acclaimed Indian classical dancer, moved to Chicago from India in 1974. With a master’s degree in nutrition, she chose to quit dancing and work as a dietician in the city. But, her passion for the dance of Bharata Natyam won over.
A leading member of the Indian-American community persuaded Rajagopalan to perform at a community center in Chicago. From there on, Rajagopalan’s journey as a dance teacher took off. At the request of a few parents, she started teaching Bharata Natyam to children. What started as a small dance class in her living room grew to become a leading dance theatre in Chicago and its suburbs.
Continue reading Hema Rajagopalan: A dancer unfurling Indian culture in Chicago (Video)
By Vishakha Darbha
Alejandro Figueredo Diaz-Perera watched over the makeshift sewing studio at Soul Asylum, an art exhibition focusing on immigrant stories of struggle.
Perera is one half of an artist duo, with Cara Megan Lewis. Together, they call themselves Diaz Lewis. At Soul Asylum, their interactive artwork is titled “34,000 Pillows,” inspired by the 2007 congressional mandate that states that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) must maintain a quota of 34,000 detained immigrants per day in 250 centers around the country. “34,000 Pillows” is an on-going project, made by old clothes often donated by former detainees. The studio at Soul Asylum also allows visitors to contribute to the pillow-making process.
The exhibition opened on January 22 and will continue until March 26. It is being held at Weinberg/Newton gallery, previously known as David Weinberg Photography, in collaboration with Human Rights Watch. Other artists in the exhibit include The Albany Park Theatre Project, Jenny Polak and Tania Bruguera.
Artist Alejandro Figueredo Diaz-Perera, in collaboration with Cara Megan Lewis, explains the inspiration behind his interactive artwork “34,000 Pillows” (Vishakha Darbha/MEDILL)
Photo on Top: Artist Alejandro Figueredo Diaz-Perera stitches a pillow, part of his on-going project “34,000 Pillows.” (Vishakha Darbha/MEDILL)
By Nikita Mandhani
Amarah Alghaban clutched the mic as she recited a verse from one of her favorite poems by Naomi Shihab Nye, about the plight of Palestinians.
“And these are not two equal sides: occupier and occupied.
And a hundred dead, two hundred dead, and a thousand dead.
And between that, war crime and massacre, I vent out words and smile ‘not exotic,’
Continue reading Unmasked: A platform for cultural expressions for Muslim youth (Video)
By Angela G. Barnes and Anne Arntson
A major street in the Dunning neighborhood is getting a face-lift, but the city may have a hundred-year-old burial problem.
According to Barry Fleig, a historian who’s chronicled the mishandling of bodies on the Northwest Side, the upgrade may disturb indigent graves.
This reconstruction project was suppose to start in June, but city officials say they want to explore the area first because records show bodies were once buried there.
Photo at top: The old Cook County Poorhouse cemetery underneath the Oak Park Ave Construction site. (Angela G. Barnes/Medill)
By Mathias Meier
Magda Brown travels trough the entire country to tell her tragic story as a holocaust survivor. With clockwork precision she remembers every detail and relives it with shocking accuracy. And even though she says it hurts her deeply, she does it to rest assure that future generations won’t repeat past mistakes.
Continue reading VIDEO: 87-year-old survivor relives holocaust memories to educate future generations