Filed under: Discrimination, Global Economy & Politics, Race, U.S. Politics, Unions
“Closing 50 of our neighborhood schools is outrageous and no society that claims to care anything about its children can sit back and allow this to happen to them. There is no way people of conscience will stand by and allow these people to shut down nearly a third of our school district without putting up a fight. Most of these campuses are in the Black community. Since 2001 88% of students impacted by CPS School Actions are African-American. And this is by design.”— Karen Lewis, President of the Chicago Teachers Union
It was a grim Thursday afternoon on March 21st as the news trickled out that 61 Chicago school buildings would be closed and that 54 school programs will be axed. The closings are heavily clustered in the poorest mostly African American and Latino neighborhoods, where decades of disinvestment and economic apartheid have taken a heavy toll on the residents.
Many people have moved away from these communities, driven out by the lack of jobs, the meager resources given to the schools, the inadequate city services and the resulting crime and violence. Many believe that the forced exodus is part of a land grab for real estate interests who will move in to gentrify these areas.
On the South and West Sides of the city, where the closings are hitting hardest, poverty is a policy, not an accident. The Chicago financial elite, which could provide jobs and rational investment, has chosen displacement over renewal, ethnic cleansing over neighborhood stabilization. As the Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel is the public face of this prairie plutocracy. Read more
Filed under: Discrimination, Race, Society & Economy, U.S. Politics, Unions
There are no barbed wire adorned border walls. You won’t see unsmiling heavily armed solders toting automatic weapons as you wait nervously in a long line for clearance to cross over. You won’t have to show a passport or have your car torn apart during a search for weapons or drugs. In fact unless you are an expert at modern urban wall art, you may not even realize you have crossed one of these Chicago borders.
They are the ever shifting boundaries in Chicago’s gang and turf wars. What the Associated Press has called, “a Sandy Hook Elementary School attack unfolding in slow motion”, caught the attention of the national media with the killing of 15 year old South Sider Hadiya Pendleton.
Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy called it a gang shooting, and that Pendleton, who had no gang affiliation, was a victim of “Mistaken identity — wrong place at the wrong time.” Leaving aside the issue of where is the right “place” and when is right “time” to get shot, this statement tells us nothing. Read more
Filed under: Discrimination, Society & Economy, U.S. Politics
I don’t mind telling you how scared I was that morning of June 20, 1971. That was the day we were going to Rising Sun, Maryland to picket the Klan at a picnic they were sponsoring. The fear was deep and profound. Butterflies in the stomach? Well, I had a gang of scorpions brawling down there.
Sure, this was Maryland, not Mississippi. It was 1971, not a few years before when the Klan was still leaving a trail of bodies all over the South. But part of the Klan’s power was its ability to install fear in people. It was sure working on me.
Filed under: Global Economy & Politics, Society & Economy, U.S. Politics, Unions
It was a cold clear Saturday morning on December 22, 2012 when I got off the CTA Green Line and walked toward the St. James Cathedral to join with members of the Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago (WOCC). WOCC was planning march and sit-in to demand a living wage of $15 an hour for Chicago’s downtown retail and restaurant workers. The Illinois minimum wage is now $8.25, far below what is needed to support families or even individuals.
The Hawk, Chicago’s legendary icy wind off the Lake, was not present as I crossed the Michigan Ave bridge on the way to the Cathedral. The Hawk can easily cut through the North Face jackets favored by many Chicagoans and makes carrying a large protest banner as tricky as sailing a schooner around Cape Horn. And leafletting to passersby when The Hawk comes down? You can lose dozens of fliers in an instant if you relax your grip and then have to chase a passel of airborne leaflets through crowds of shoppers and tourists.
The weather was with us that day.
WOCC was a new union in town, barely a month old, but had already pulled off two successful public actions including banner drops at Macy’s department store and marches through Chicago’s upscale Magnificent Mile (aka MagMile) shopping district.
What is not often talked about in regards to the 2nd Amendment and its “well regulated militia” is that one of its original purposes was to enforce tyranny. In order to maintain the vast slave empire, the slave states organized “slave patrols”, creating what amounted to a vast totalitarian police state over much of the young Republic. Slaves of course were not among those people who had the right “to keep and bear arms.”
The slave patrols were among the “well regulated militias” of our early history and contributed to the militarism of that region, a militarism necessary to put down slave rebellions.