WBEZ | Front & Center http://www.wbez.org/tags/front-center Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Restoring Roseland: Confronting violence with peaceful practices http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/restoring-roseland-confronting-violence-peaceful-practices-106651 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/130412_Restorative Justice 1_ko.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>More than 500 homicides were reported in the city of Chicago last year: 361 of the victims were African-American males; 220 were between the ages of 15 and 24.</p><p>In the fall of 2009, Christian Fenger High School became national news after violence took one of its own. A short while later, the school implemented a program that aims to squash America&rsquo;s culture of violence. It&rsquo;s called restorative justice, and for Fenger, it came after a particularly gruesome death.</p><p>One September afternoon, a fight stemming from an earlier gang-related shooting erupted just blocks from the school. Amateur video of the mob-like brawl showed dozens of people hurling punches, kicks, bottles and bricks at one another. Sophomore Derrion Albert was killed. He was the third Chicago Public School student killed, just a few weeks into the school year.</p><p>Senior Gerald Banks was a class behind Albert. He remembered always being on edge his freshman year. Banks recalled news cameras parked outside of the school every morning and fights every day.</p><p>&ldquo;Everybody had their backs turned, making sure nobody was going to swing,&rdquo; Banks remembered.</p><p>Fenger&#39;s Culture and climate specialist Robert Spicer arrived at the school just two weeks before Albert&rsquo;s death. He referred to Albert&rsquo;s death as rock bottom, noting that the school had well over 375 arrests that year.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of these young people out here shooting and do all that stuff, they don&rsquo;t want to do this,&quot; Spicer explained.&nbsp;&quot;They don&rsquo;t want to carry a gun. But they feel forced to&mdash;because they feel like nobody out here is going to protect them so they have to protect themselves. So the only way they can be heard and respected is if they carry a gun. That&rsquo;s terrible.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Fenger needed a new approach&mdash;which is exactly what Spicer was brought there to do; and so he started implementing restorative justice.</p><p>Restorative justice is a philosophy that centers around relationships and trust. It seeks to address the needs of the victim, the wrongdoer and the community. It&rsquo;s also about healing: dressing the wounds many of these children leave raw and bare. The ones that eat at them until they&rsquo;re overcome.&nbsp;</p><p>He saw an opportunity for Fenger to be the game changers to, as he put it, &ldquo;show our society that it&rsquo;s possible to go into an urban environment, introduce these practices and be able to bring civility and sanity back into that school, any school.&rdquo;</p><p>Part of this process takes place in the peace room, just down the hall from the Fenger&rsquo;s main office. There, on the floor, in the middle of the room, is a black and white mat. On it rests &rdquo;talking pieces&rdquo; objects of significance to Spicer and the seniors who serve as peer jurors and help lead peace circles. The pieces are things like stuffed animals, a rain stick, a tree stump...when a member of the circle holds the talking piece, it&rsquo;s their time to talk.</p><p>The peace room is where stakeholders in a conflict can come together to have a summit of sorts. Last week, a group of freshman girls gathered there after gossip got a little too close to a fight. With a potential 10-day suspension on the horizon, Spicer rerouted the girls to a peace circle.</p><p>Spicer told them that the circle was their time to be real. Their time to say what was on their minds. Because, as he put it, no one else was going to give them the time&mdash;not the dean and certainly not the real world.</p><p>&ldquo;You know this is not a game,&quot; Spicer warned.&nbsp;&quot;You know what&rsquo;s waiting for you if you decide to take your attitude and go out here and do stupid, silly stuff&mdash;they ready to send you right up out of here. And that world out there, as cold as it is...it&rsquo;s even colder without an education.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>That&rsquo;s the meat and potatoes right there: The object of the game is to get kids back in class. Because a kid with an education is much more likely to survive.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;People who drop out from high school are much more likely to become gang-involved than those (who) do not. And we know that a very, very important predictor of graduating high school is being able to ready by third grade,&rdquo; <a href="http://www.law.yale.edu/faculty/TMeares.htm" target="_blank">Tracey Meares</a>, the Walton Hale Hamilton Professor of Law at Yale Law School, explained.</p><p>Meares&rsquo; research focuses on crime prevention strategies. She spent a great deal of time looking at the city of Chicago, particularly areas of high crime and poverty.</p><p>Meares subscribes to the idea that violence should be treated like a public health issue, more specifically, like a blood-born pathogen. Therefore the best violence-reduction strategy, as Meares described it, is to identify the people who are central to the network of crime, who occupy important places in densely connected networks, and to intervene to try to get them to stop engaging in violence.</p><p>Almost four years into Fenger&rsquo;s philosophical switch, the rate of freshman on track to graduate rose to between 75 and 85 percent, from around 40. Arrests at school were down. So why not put a peace room in every school?</p><p><a href="http://umojacorporation.org/leadership/staff/ilana-zafran/" target="_blank">Ilana Zafran</a> helps implement restorative justice programs in partner schools around Chicago. She said the biggest problem is patience. People want immediate results but changing a culture and restorative justice takestime.</p><p>The other criticism, Zafran explained, is that people want those who have wronged them to be held accountable. Or more intimately, when confronted, to admit their error and apologize. But, she said, sometimes people aren&rsquo;t ready to admit wrongdoing. And that can be hard.</p><p>Back at Fenger, after the talking piece had been round the circle a few times, one of the freshman girls echoed Meares&rsquo; earlier point.</p><p>She explained that while she might be &ldquo;the coolest, funniest short person you know,&rdquo; if someone had a problem with her, she&rsquo;d just avoid them. Because, she shared, her friend&rsquo;s cousin was shot and killed over some &lsquo;he-said-she-said stuff&rsquo;&mdash;and if her friend had been there, she&rsquo;d be gone too. And she wasn&rsquo;t about to lose her life over something as small as all that. She wanted to be sure the group knew, for her, the situation was over. And asked them to let it go.</p><p>The hope is that young people can learn to let go. That they can squash things before they escalate, before someone raises a hand or a gun. Or that they share senior Ana Muniz&rsquo;s philosophy on fighting.</p><p>&ldquo;You need two people to fight&mdash;I&rsquo;m not available. I&rsquo;m never available. If you want to talk,&rdquo; Muniz clarified, &ldquo;I&rsquo;m available to talk.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Muniz, who was raised in Mexico, said she already took the lessons she&rsquo;s learned to her family back home. She convened peace circles at her younger sister&rsquo;s school. The hope is that peace circles continue to expand and that what&rsquo;s happening at Fenger will continue to create ripples of peace.</p><p dir="ltr" id="internal-source-marker_0.5029294477684348"><em>Katie O&rsquo;Brien is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/katieobez" target="_blank">@katieobez</a></em></p></p> Mon, 15 Apr 2013 11:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/restoring-roseland-confronting-violence-peaceful-practices-106651 Building wealth in black America doesn't come from family estates http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/building-wealth-black-america-doesnt-come-family-estates-104313 <p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bud%20Biliken%20Parade.JPG" title="Ron Lofton rode a float at the Bud Billiken Parade with Keith Pryor, another BMOA member and McDonald's owner. (Photo courtesy of Toya Werner Martin)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p>Ron Lofton owns five thriving McDonalds on Chicago&rsquo;s West Side. He proudly shows off the kitchen at his highest-grossing location on West Madison Street. Employees hustle to make burgers in 17 seconds.</p><p>&quot;We make every sandwich for you. Nothing sits under the heat lamp,&quot; Lofton said.</p><p>Next Lofton opens the walk-in freezer and points to boxes upon boxes of frozen hamburger meat.</p><p>&quot;[We go through] probably about nine cases a day. There&rsquo;s 300 patties in a case. French fries, we get probably 70 or 80 of these on every truck. We get a truck twice a week.&quot;</p><p>Fifty-nine-year-old Lofton became a McDonald&rsquo;s franchise owner just 20 years ago.</p><p>Before that he was a well-paid executive at a hospital equipment company. He traveled five days of the week. On the job, Lofton witnessed blacks move up the ladder but get less-prominent titles than their white peers.</p><p>Meanwhile, Lofton says he brought in two-thirds of the company&rsquo;s business.</p><p>&quot;Yet I was paid the same or less than the other guys and my stock options were significantly less than what a division manager should&rsquo;ve been getting,&quot; Lofton said.</p><p>So Lofton asked himself: &quot;whether I was going to stay in corporate America and make them lots of money. Of course in corporate America there&rsquo;s always that glass ceiling for people of color. So I didn&rsquo;t want that to happen. I wanted unlimited ability to determine my own destiny.&quot;</p><p>That led him to the golden arches.</p><p>Lofton used savings and cashed out those stock options to further his wealth. He plunked down several hundred thousands dollars to purchase his first McDonald&rsquo;s franchise.</p><p>Yes, a corporate chain. But as an owner operator, Lofton has built a good life, far from the one he knew as a child.</p><p>&quot;I don&rsquo;t even play the lottery,&quot; he said. &quot;I figure if I&rsquo;m gonna get rich, I&rsquo;m gonna have to work for it.&quot;</p><p>Lofton and his family shuttled between the steel town of Erie, Penn. and rural Mississippi looking better opportunities.</p><p>His grandparents raised him along with 17 children. His grandmother outslicked the Mississippi sharecropper to buy the family&rsquo;s 40 acres of land.<br />The routine growing up meant toiling on the farm by 5 a.m.</p><p>&quot;We grew cucumbers, black-eyed peas, they call them crowder peas down South, okra, sweet corn,&quot; Lofton said.</p><p>And they picked cotton.</p><p>&quot;I did know I didn&rsquo;t want to pick cotton for a living,&quot; he said. &quot;When I asked my grandmother if I could go to school that day because I had a basketball game to play, in the South in mid-September, early August, that&rsquo;s cotton-picking time and that&rsquo;s what I was told. It&rsquo;s time to pick this cotton; we&rsquo;ll have to get school later. So I determined then I ain&rsquo;t gonna do this for a living. I don&rsquo;t want to knock my grandparents I think they&rsquo;re great people.&quot;</p><p>A strong work ethic and love of school served young Lofton well. People in the farming community would often slip him 50 cents or a dollar, encouraging him to keep up the good work in school.</p><p>He did make his grandparents proud by being the only one they raised to go to college. Lofton attended Clarion University in Pennsylvania on a full basketball scholarship. He earned a sociology/anthropology degree.</p><p>&quot;After that (I) got into social work for a couple of years and found out how depressing that was and got into Corporate America,&quot; he said.</p><p>It was hard to break existing paradigms. Lofton is 6 feet 3 inches tall and has the girth of a football player.</p><p>&quot;Being a person of color and big at the same time, there&rsquo;s always a thought process that one, you&rsquo;re too aggressive, two you&rsquo;re angry about something,&quot; he said.</p><p>Research backs Lofton up.</p><p>Robert Livingston is a professor at Northwestern University&rsquo;s Kellogg School of Management. Livingston does diversity training with white executives. The exercises he leads show executives that they are vulnerable to biases.</p><p>He said it&rsquo;s not that people are being mean.</p><p>&quot;A lot of these stereotypes that people have that may be unaware of are non-consciously affecting their evaluations of people&#39;s merit and people&rsquo;s potential to function in a particular role,&quot; Livingston said. &quot;Ditto for African-Americans. They may be perceived differently than whites. Now if you tell people that, at first they deny it, right? The immediate knee jerk response is to say &lsquo;oh, I&rsquo;m not biased, I&rsquo;m not racist, I don&rsquo;t have stereotypes.&rsquo;&quot;</p><p>That&rsquo;s part of the reason Lofton chose to strike out on his own. He&rsquo;s been in Chicago since 1985, right at the end of the city&rsquo;s peak as a black business metropolis.</p><p>Chicago has historically been a mecca for black-owned businesses that help people fulfill the American Dream -- from Afro-Sheen to Ebony Magazine to Ariel Capital.</p><p>But the metropolis has declined as the recession hit the black community in Chicago and other urban areas hard. The housing crisis disproportionately affected blacks, who historically dip into homes for collateral and savings.</p><p>Black businesses have fallen on especially hard times in this recession. Studies show that in 2011, there were half as many black-owned car dealerships, for example, as there were three years earlier.</p><p>Still, the city known as the black metropolis is faring well compared to other American cities. Last year, Chicago was home to 18 of the nation&rsquo;s top-grossing black-owned businesses, according to Black Enterprise Magazine.</p><p>Gospel music blares in a ballroom at Apostolic Church in Chicago&rsquo;s Woodlawn neighborhood.</p><p>The Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana Black McDonald&rsquo;s Operators Association is sponsoring a holiday free breakfast for the homeless.</p><p>Lofton is president of the group. The association is committed to leadership, education and developing partnerships within the African-American communities they serve.</p><p>Lofton takes the mic to welcome the crowd.</p><p>His five McDonalds earn millions of dollars each year. He lives in Plainfield, Illinois, in a big house surrounded by chirping crickets and fresh air. It makes the country boy in him feel at home.</p><p>Lofton doesn&rsquo;t like to talk about material things when he talks about wealth.</p><p>Wealth is providing tutoring for school children at one of his West Side eateries. Or helping his staff get scholarships for college.</p><p>&quot;The responsibility to give back is a natural thing that was embedded in me by my grandparents,&quot; Lofton said.</p><p>He learned that back on the cotton farm in Mississippi, where wealth was measured with lots of children, land and love.</p></p> Wed, 12 Dec 2012 10:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/building-wealth-black-america-doesnt-come-family-estates-104313 'Afternoon Shift' #178: Murdoch's Chicago http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2012-10-30/afternoon-shift-178-murdochs-chicago-103530 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Rupert Murdoch flickr.jpg" alt="" /><p><script src="http://storify.com/WBEZ/afternoon-shift-178-murdoch-s-chicago.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="http://storify.com/WBEZ/afternoon-shift-178-murdoch-s-chicago" target="_blank">View the story "'Afternoon Shift' #178: Murdoch's Chicago" on Storify</a>]<h1>'Afternoon Shift' #178: Murdoch's Chicago</h1><h2>Rumors that Rupert Murdoch has his eye on the &quot;Chicago Tribune&quot; has veteran journalists experiencing '80s flashbacks--so does the Bears' winning streak. Our &quot;Front &amp; Center&quot; series continues its look at the state of the American Dream. And Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg talks about his new book.</h2><p>Storified by &middot; Mon, Oct 29 2012 14:26:45</p><div>The NEW Rupert Murdoch twitter profile imagejardenberg</div><div>VeteranChicago journalists are experiencing ‘80s flashbacks amidst rumors that mediamogul Rupert Murdoch is eying the <i>Chicago Tribune</i>. Host Rick Kogan andlongtime Chicago newsman Zay Smith discuss the potential return of Rupert. </div><div>@WBEZ Murdoch paper works for wrapping and sending fish to those that fail to read and follow the memo - Love Rahm @retheauditorsPaul Walker</div><div>Real-time time capsule: Kogan talking Royko and Chicago newspapering history on WBEZ at moment.Tim Rostan</div><div>It was, as WBEZ sports reporter <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-10/misery-lakefront-turns-joy-bears-103475" class="">Cheryl Raye-Stout described it</a>, an "ugly" win for the Chicago Bears on Sunday. But it was a win. Midday executive producer Justin Kaufmann joins Rick Kogan for his weekly assessment.<br></div><div>@WBEZ If you going to win ugly, the @Bears showed us how ugly...Misery on the lakefront turns to joy for the #Bears http://j.mp/VY3rrJCheryl Raye Stout</div><div>Many more ughs expected on #AfternoonShift RT @Crayestout: Ugly doesn't even descibe this Bears game...but it is a win. http://fb.me/2tMlIJAjKKatie O'Brien</div><div>RT this if you liked seeing @ItsGHardy sack #Bears QB Jay Cutler 3 times in the first half! #CARvsCHI http://pic.twitter.com/ML8sPHxqCarolina Panthers</div><div>WBEZ's Achy Obejas and the Chicago Sun-Times' Laura Washington unpack the news--#Sandy and beyond--in today's 3 @ 3.<br></div><div>WAVES WASH OVER SEA WALL AT BATTERY PARK IN MANHATTAN, NEW YORK AS HURRICANE SANDY APPROACHES ( october 29, 2012 ) #hurricane #sandy #hurricanesandyWorld BUZZ</div><div>#hurricanesandy #sandy #nyc #williamsburg #brooklyn #flooding #newyork #wtc #picoftheday #photoofthedayrj dibella</div><div>WBEZ's Front &amp; Center series continues its look at the state of the American Dream. Single mother <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/parenting-poverty-part-ii-sarahs-story-103474" class="">Sarah</a> navigates the system to provide for her children while living in poverty.<br></div><div>Parenting in poverty: Part II of Sarah's storyThere&amp;#39;s little doubt that Sarah and her family have an unstable life. But the question of why that is, and how it should be fixed is ...</div><div>We dive deeper into the economics of single motherhood with author and historian Stephanie Coontz &amp; Isabel Sawhill, a budget expert and co-director of the Center on Children and Families and the Budgeting for National Priorities at Brookings.<br></div><div>The economics of single motherhood by WBEZFollowing today's Front and Center piece, we talk with Stephanie coontz and Isabel Sawheel about the economics of being a single mother.</div><div>Today i will be on WBEZ, Chicago, Front and Center at 3 pm central. One of a three part series on economic mobility, with Isabel SawhillStephanie Coontz</div><div>And the Chicago Sun-Times' Neil Steinberg discusses his new book, <a href="http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/Y/bo13190254.html" class="">You Were Never in Chicago</a>, his own story about making his way into Chicago journalism's inner circles and upper levels of Chicago journalism.<br></div><div>Neil Steinberg's You Were Never in Chicago by WBEZThe Chicago Sun-Times' Neil Steinberg discusses his new book, You Were Never in Chicago, his own story about making his way into Chicago ...</div></noscript></p> Mon, 29 Oct 2012 14:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2012-10-30/afternoon-shift-178-murdochs-chicago-103530 American Dream Deferred: The Newsroom 09/24 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/american-dream-deferred-newsroom-0924-102629 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/newspaper.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="338" mozallowfullscreen="" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/50101227" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="600"></iframe></p><p>As part of our series looking at economic mobility in America, Front &amp; Center recently visited a rally in Milwaukee for President Barack Obama.</p><p>The President addressed a crowd of thousands. He spoke about helping working class families by raising taxes for the wealthy and maintaining more jobs in the United States. Mr. Obama said that &quot;in this country, hard work should pay off.&quot; He added that &quot;everyone should get a shot.&quot;</p><p>Supporters of Republican nominee Mitt Romney said the message was empty rhetoric and expressed concern about the number of young Americans who are unemployed.</p><p>We asked those in attendance what they thought of the American Dream, and whether it&#39;s attainable.</p><p>In other news about climbing the economic ladder.&nbsp;</p><p><a href="http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/21/income-inequality-and-educational-opportunity/" target="_blank"><strong>New York Times: Income Inequality and Educational Opportunity</strong></a></p><p>&quot;The United States is caught in a vicious cycle largely of its own making. Rising income inequality is breeding more inequality in educational opportunity, which results in greater inequality in educational attainment. That, in turn, undermines the intergenerational mobility upon which Americans have always prided themselves and perpetuates income inequality from generation to generation.&quot;</p><p><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/census-signs-of-economy-bottoming-out-as-mobility-rises-fewer-young-adults-live-with-parents/2012/09/19/9bb6ffd0-02ce-11e2-9132-f2750cd65f97_story.html" target="_blank"><strong>Associated Press: Census data show rising mobility, other social changes that suggest recovery</strong></a></p><p>&ldquo;There are signs that young adults have turned a corner,&rdquo; said Mark Mather, associate vice president at the Population Reference Bureau. &ldquo;More young adults are staying in school, which will increase their potential earnings when the job market bounces back. It&rsquo;s going to take some time, but we should see more young adults entering the labor force, buying homes and starting families as economic conditions improve.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://www.voices4kids.org/number-of-illinois-children-living-in-poverty-increases-to-660000" target="_blank"><strong>Voices for Illinois Children: Number of Illinois Children Living in Poverty Increases to 660,000</strong></a></p><p>&ldquo;Growing up in poverty can have serious and long-lasting effects on children&rsquo;s health, development, and overall well-being. The effects of poverty have a well-documented impact on young children&rsquo;s developing brains. And children who grow up in poverty are more likely to experience harmful levels of stress, more likely to struggle in school, and more likely to have behavioral, social, and emotional problems than their peers.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/20/us/politics/struggling-young-adults-pose-challenge-for-campaigns.html?pagewanted=all"><strong>New York Times: Struggling Young Adults Are Question Mark for Campaigns</strong></a></p><p>&quot;At a recent jobs fair in Atlanta, Latasha Kelly, 22, said she was distressed by the hundreds of people who also came out. Ms. Kelly dropped out of college four years ago because she could not afford it. She has completed a city-sponsored job training program in customer service. If she is lucky, she says, she will find work at a store like Walmart.&quot;</p></p> Mon, 24 Sep 2012 13:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/american-dream-deferred-newsroom-0924-102629 Literacy and adult education in North Lawndale http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/literacy-and-adult-education-north-lawndale-101983 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/IMG_0969.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>On August 24, the Barber Shop Show joined forces with Front and Center to talk low literacy and adult education in North Lawndale.&nbsp;In the Great Lakes region, one third of adults are low-literate. This means they have trouble with ordinary tasks like filling out a job application.</p><p>When hard times hit the region, North Lawndale is hit harder. The unemployment rate in this neighborhood is about three times the city&rsquo;s average. Almost half of families here live below the poverty line.</p><p>When it comes to getting more North Lawndale residents employed and lifting their earning potential, the key may be improving literacy.&nbsp;Raising adult education levels seems like a clear-cut way to increase employment and earnings. But making it happen isn&rsquo;t easy.</p><p>To find out more, Richard Steele and Kimbriell Kelly spoke with Nicole Hicks, a woman who recently overcame her fear of being the oldest person in class to earn her GED at age forty.</p><p>Later in the show, we heard from employer Mark O&rsquo;Hara. A GED and solid reading and writing skills are a requirement at his company. We learned about his challenges finding workers with the skills to kill bugs, and how his company, Andersen Pest Solutions, aims to address the skills gap.</p><p>After that, we were joined by Darren Tillis and Tameeka Christian with the North Lawndale Community Action Council on Education. Darren and Tameeka are working to improve parent engagement in North Lawndale schools. Key to their strategy is increasing literacy.</p><p><em>Every Friday, Vocalo.org heads to Carter&#39;s Barber Shop in North Lawndale for the live broadcast of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.vocalo.org/barbershop-show/" target="_blank">The Barber Shop Show</a>. &nbsp;Hosted by the Chicago Reporter&#39;s Kimbriell Kelly and WBEZ&#39;s Richard Steele,&nbsp;The Barber Shop Show is a weekly dose of real talk, straight from the shop floor.</em></p></p> Mon, 27 Aug 2012 14:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/literacy-and-adult-education-north-lawndale-101983