Chicago Public Schools students are scheduled to return to in-person learning at the end of the month. But Norma Noriega said some Black and Brown kids won’t return despite a requirement for most students to learn at school five days a week this year. For some parents, the risk of sending their children to school won’t be worth taking as COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the city, said Noriega, who teaches sixth grade math at Stevenson Elementary School in the Scottsdale neighborhood.. The virus also continues to disproportionately affect communities of color. “Brown and Black children already come into this world endangered to some extent, so there are going to be parents who aren’t going to risk their children’s lives,” she said. “They’re not going to risk the lives of the other children in their household.
Chris, a 23-year-old Auburn Gresham resident, said it’s because many people around his age are less likely to take precautions against the virus than older adults. That includes wearing masks and avoiding large gatherings at bars and music festivals. “We go outside. Our generation is trying to live in the moment,” said Chris, who didn’t want to give his last name. For him, that means going downtown on weekends and socializing over drinks and music at bars often packed with maskless faces.
ByJorge Carrasco - of The Center for Health Journalism |
His rent at a modest bedroom in a trailer park was due. Roberto, 43, had just emigrated to Miami from Cuba and lacked a safety net. Then, an immigrant friend recommended that he take part in a paid clinical trial and mentioned she had been making thousands of dollars through constant participation. The trials had become a well-paid “job,” she said. Roberto said he saw “a light.” It was 2013.
Police responding to citizens’ mental health episodes without the benefit of a trained professional will soon be just an afterthought when the city launches a pilot program next month. In 13 Chicago neighborhoods, certified mental health specialists will accompany police responding to calls regarding someone undergoing a crisis. Mental health workers and even some police officers have long maintained law enforcement isn’t always equipped to handle someone going through a mental lapse, regardless of the severity. The pilot program will send teams consisting of a paramedic, police officer and mental health crisis intervention professional and is set to begin in August. Communities on the West Side, North Side and South Side have been identified.
The program, Crisis Assistance Response and Engagement (CARE), was announced in June at Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Violence Prevention and Reduction committee meeting. The targeted communities include; Auburn Gresham, Chatham, Chicago Lawn, East Garfield Park, Gage Park, Humboldt Park, Lakeview, North Center, Uptown, West Garfield Park, West Elsdon, West Englewood and West Lawn.
On July 20, millions of Muslims across the U.S. celebrated Eid Al Adha, the Muslim Feast of the Sacrifice, commemorating Prophet Ibrahim’s faithfulness to God after being tested with the unfulfilled command to sacrifice his son. In Chicago, the Arab American Muslim families I know celebrated with feasts, prayers, and giving. They shared and distributed food with those in need. They visited cemeteries to share the celebration in the memory of departed loved ones. They drove across town or to nearby states like Michigan to celebrate with their extended family.
For centuries, Black and Indigenous writers have established loud and clear the great paradox of the Fourth of July: the U.S.’ purported democracy was founded on slavery and genocide. We must also remember that since July 4, 1776, the U.S. has not only continued its settler-colonial project and its containment of Black people within U.S. borders, but it has also expanded its colonial aspirations across the globe. One only needs to recall that the turn of the 20th century “independence” entailed the colonization of Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Guam, Samoa, and Hawaii. In recent years, from police killings of Black people to the deportation machine’s caging of children, it is more clear than ever that the idea that “all men are created equal” was meant only for some, not for all. Perhaps this explains why protesting U.S. state violence has been as much of a part of the Fourth of July as the fireworks and the cookouts all along — from Congolese Therese Patricia Okomou who scaled the Statue of Liberty to protest family separations in 2018 and continues to demand “Abolish ICE” to the 2020 protests against police violence or those who blocked the highway leading up to Mount Rushmore, reminding the world that this land, the Black Hills, belongs to the Lakota Sioux.
As it did with the health care system and economy, COVID-19 exacerbated the deep disparities in education by race and ethnicity that existed across the country’s public school system underscoring the importance of prioritizing equitable access to learning. In Chicago, school districts were overwhelmed and unequipped with the chaos of mass school closures and shifting to remote learning. Hispanic-Latino students who make up the largest student body in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) were hardest hit by the disruption. For Hispanic-Latino students and other disenfranchised communities, educators who share their lived experiences could have made a big impact on CPS policy changes that chastised low-income students lacking basic technology, access to live instruction, and safe quiet spaces to learn. Now, with the appointment of José Torres as the interim CPS chief replacing CEO Janice Jackson, there’s an opportunity to make representation in leadership reflect the diversity in classrooms.
“CPS is primarily made up of Latino students,” Ald.
Finally, 17 years after Chicago Public Schools implemented the Renaissance 2010 “turnaround” strategy, a policy that continues to fuel today’s violence, the Chicago Board of Education voted unanimously last month to put an end to the plan. School board member Elizabeth Todd-Breland, called the strategy “a relic of a previous era of school reform.” The purpose of the policy was to establish an increased number of high-quality education options across Chicago by transforming several dysfunctional schools into smaller, more manageable schools. However, a by-product of the policy was that it contributed to high dropout rates, especially among young, African American males who were at high risk for gangs and violence. They really suffered.
Consensus is growing across U.S. social movements that people living in the U.S. have a responsibility to stand in solidarity with Palestinian liberation due to Washington providing Israel with $3.8 billion in annual military aid. Union teachers are preparing votes in solidarity with the Palestinian people and polls indicate a shift in thinking, particularly on the left and with young people and BIPOC communities. Solidarity with Palestine is often based on a recognition that the U.S. government has allowed our taxes to fund Israeli state violence and that racist U.S. systems like policing and prisons share resources and technologies with Israel. Yet we should also recognize that the U.S. imposes disastrous neoliberal economic policies on Palestinians and that these policies are essential to U.S. domination of many parts of the Arab region and North Africa. For example, in many countries in that region, U.S.-led economic neoliberalism is devastating the population.