Traces of change devoured the streets of Chicago eight years ago as African-Americans came together to elect the first black president of the United States.
But eight years later, change resonates with an aftertaste of failed promises that comes with being born to the murder capital of the world.
“Eight years, eight years,” said Ron Robert, a 26-year-old South Shore resident. “What has Obama done for your life? What has changed? Nothing. Nothing has changed. We are struggling. Either way, we can’t win.”
And that sentiment is felt by many African-American voters all over the country.
Continue reading The hollow election: The African-American vote
From the DuSable Museum of African-American History to the heart of the University of Chicago’s campus, all the performances are located throughout the neighborhood. Hyde Park is the fest’s playground and attendees will float from one historic location to the next to experience all that the community has to offer.
“It’s a way to bring people together and celebrate the community, the art and the spaces in Hyde Park,” said Olivia Junell the managing director of the Hyde Park Jazz Festival. “It’s a huge draw, which is good for business and visibility on the South Side of Chicago.”
Though attendees will hear jazz icons such as Miguel Zenon and Matana Roberts, they will also get to know local Chicago musicians, some of whom are just breaking into the jazz scene. Continue reading Hyde Park Jazz Fest: a fest like no other
Music and the streets are all Robert Floyd Butler has ever known.
When he is not in the streets, he is rapping.
Music is a flight from the harsh realities that life has served him for over 20 years. He raps to provide a better future for his family and friends. He raps because it is all he has ever known. He raps because it is a way out.
But the more he raps, the more he realizes that getting out won’t be that easy. But what conviction that haunts him more? He doesn’t want to.
“I’ve been in the streets since I was a kid,” Butler, who is from the Chatham neighborhood in Chicago, said. “Every man I have been around has been in the streets. Once I got involved, it was fun. I was getting respect. I was seen.”
Continue reading Following the music home
Soulful remnants of Shawnee Dez’s rifts devour the lofty art gallery as she slowly lets her guarded persona dissipate. For moments, her soulful music draws the room closer together in awe at the sophisticated voice that resonates from her 21-year-old chords.
But the intimate moment is not exclusive in today’s tech era.
Seconds into her performance, cell phones emerge from the masked audience and screen reflections dance off one another, competing with the stage lights that hold her up.
In a world where documenting everything has become trendy, the rise of social media has disrupted the industry, changing how artists perform, sell and brand their art.
Continue reading The hashtag benefit isn’t enough
Karyn Lacey lives beyond the brinks of the Red Line’s corridors. Getting to the CTA isn’t a 10, 15 or even 20 minute walk from her doorstep. For Lacey, a first year graduate student studying journalism at DePaul, riding the CTA means driving to a northern stop she feels comfortable at, and then taking the CTA to her classes downtown twice a week.
So when news broke that Chicago received $1 billion in federal funding to renovate the northern half of the Red Line, Lacey felt helpless.
“If anybody needs a renovation, it’s the South Side,” Lacey said. “You can’t do one side and not the other.” Continue reading Chicago receives $1 billion grant for Red Line renovation ahead of Trump inauguration
Beauty Supply products do not nourish the sea of curls that consume Jade Bryant’s head.
Weaves, braids or wigs do not safely conceal her brown natural tresses.
She prefers a more organic route.
Bryant doesn’t support the Korean owned beauty supply stores that conveniently flock every block in her neighborhood, anymore.
“I felt like they were watching me,” she said, recalling a time she stopped at her local beauty supply store to purchase razors. “When I asked for help, they pointed to the black clerk that sold the weave hair. I wasn’t even looking for weave.”
Continue reading The monopoly of black beauty
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 2007, Cook County had the most black-owned businesses in the country with over 83,000 businesses. Today, the county, which includes the Chicagoland area, parts of Indiana and Wisconsin, is home to the largest population of African-Americans in the country.
But these realities are short lived.
Last year, more African-Americans fled Cook County than in any other county nationwide. Many Chicago black-owned businesses have shutdown or on the verge of closing, leaving the city with only two of the nation’s largest black-owned businesses.
Yet, despite the competition, the economic recession and the perceptions that follow African-American communities, some are able to defy the odds. Bernita Jordan and Lorraine Bryant have carried on their family’s legacy as owners of Jordan’s Beauty Supply, which lives on the South Side of Chicago.
“People can see that when you come into a black-owned business, it can be clean, people can be friendly and you can get good service,” Jordan said. “People may have preconceived notions about our business based on our location or because of our ethnicities, but we break through the notions and customers have a whole different experience walking out.” Continue reading An introspection into Chicago’s black businesses