WBEZ | Britt Julious http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Transitioning fierceness http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-12/transitioning-fierceness-109370 <p><p class="p1"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1466042_547063392045710_1828672922_n.jpg" style="height: 479px; width: 310px; float: left;" title="(Facebook/Kristen Kaza)" />&ldquo;When you have a population of street-based youth in a wealthy area, there&rsquo;s going to be conflict and tension,&quot; said Jacqueline Boyd, a co-founder of <a href="http://projectfiercechicago.org/" target="_blank"><strong>Project Fierce Chicago</strong></a>, a new organization aimed at creating a long-term homeless living facility for LGBTQ youth.&nbsp;</p><p class="p2">Boyd&#39;s criticisms stemmed around the Lakeview neighborhood specifically, an area both known for its large and affluent LGBTQ population and its recent spate of derisive attitudes towards the actions and presence of LGBTQ youth in the neighborhood (especially those of color).&nbsp;</p><p class="p2">While the majority of LGBTQ services are in the Lakeview area, there is a dearth of resources on the South and West Sides of the city. Especially relevant is the more than 15,000 homeless youth in Chicago. Boyd estimates that a quarter are LGBTQ youth.&nbsp;</p><p class="p2">&ldquo;They&rsquo;re trying to grow and develop in the same way that everyone else is, but there&rsquo;s no housing,&quot; she said.&nbsp;</p><p class="p2">In order to combat these numbers, Project Fierce Chicago aims to create a new model for long-term and stable transitional housing for this population.&nbsp;</p><p class="p2">&ldquo;The Lakeview area has not developed [resources] of its own accord an answer,&quot; Boyd began. &quot;If it was a priority for the Lakeview area, it would have happened.&rdquo;</p><p class="p2">Fundraising efforts are currently underway, including tomorrow&#39;s Slo &#39;Mo Spectacular: A Soulful Holiday Shindig! Featuring 18 performers including r&amp;b band Sidewalk Chalk, Psalm One, and JC Brooks, fundraising efforts will go to future Project Fierce Chicago costs.</p><p class="p2">Their goal is to house 5-10 homeless youth with the expectation of housing them and providing resources (such as mental health or job resources and nutritional guidance) until they are independent and stable, eventually adapting this model to other parts of the city. Organizers are aiming towards finding a two or three-flat in the South Shore, Austin, or West Garfield Park neighborhoods, areas that are close to public transportation and are generally supportive of this living model.&nbsp;</p><p class="p2">Despite their articulated goals, Boyd makes a point of noting that their pursuits will adapt to what the youth themselves want and need.&nbsp;</p><p class="p2">&ldquo;We have all of these visions and dreams for people in transitioning, but what that is going to look like is going to be directly related to what the youth want.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p class="p2">Because despite beliefs about their station in life, they will ultimately have a greater sense of what is needed in their own lives as they transition out of homelessness.&nbsp;</p><p class="p2">&quot;They know the needed to have skills in to have control of your past and your destiny,&quot; Boyd said.&nbsp;</p><p class="p2"><em><a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/410617875731906/" target="_blank"><strong>The Slo &#39;Mo Spectacular: A Soulful Holiday Shindig!</strong></a> takes place on Saturday, Dec. 14 at the Bottom Lounge (1375 W Lake). Tickets are $15 and the event begins at 8 p.m.</em></p></p> Fri, 13 Dec 2013 15:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-12/transitioning-fierceness-109370 Inside the eye of photographer Todd Diederich http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-12/inside-eye-photographer-todd-diederich-109348 <p><div><img alt="" at="" by="" chicago="" class="image-original_image" diederich="" displayed="" exhibit="" is="" new="" pentagram="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/pp.jpg" style="float: left; height: 279px; width: 350px;" the="" title="" todd="" />Todd Diederich&rsquo;s work is robust. His passion as a photographer can be measured by the heft of each of his images. Subjects and scenes tell a complete story in each photograph, never leaving room for doubt in their liveliness or authenticity.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He captures a part of Chicago far from the sterilized energy of downtown&mdash;one that is young and potent.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>One of his many images, shown left, is on display at &quot;<a href="http://d-weinberg.com/" target="_blank">Chicago Style</a>,&quot; a new salon-style group exhibition at David Weinberg Photography.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Chicago Style&quot; features 34 Chicago photographers &quot;whose eclectic works,&quot; according to the gallery, reflect &quot;the nuanced and refined style of the stormy, husky and brawling city of big shoulders.&quot;&nbsp;It runs through February 15, 2014.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Diederich hails from Brookfield and attended Columbia College on scholarship before leaving the downtown art school in 2003. Afterward, he left the city entirely, spending time in Athens, Georgia, a city known for its extensive arts and culture community. Diederich eventually moved back to Chicago in 2009.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Diederich&rsquo;s breakthrough came with work for the Chicago Reader and a column with Vice&nbsp;Magazine online. From both experiences, he has gained a greater sense of control of what he photographs and how the images are represented. Diederich&#39;s chosen photograph for the exhibit,&nbsp;titled &quot;Pentagram Perception,&quot; was taken during his residency with local nonprofit&nbsp;<a href="http://www.acreresidency.org/">Artists&#39; Cooperative&nbsp;Residency&nbsp;and Exhibitions</a>,&nbsp;or ACRE.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;It is a good representation of my mind pressed flat against a two-dimensional surface,&rdquo; Diederich&nbsp;said of the photograph. His time at ACRE &ldquo;cracked open something inside me. My future was there and where I am still headed ... a bridge between the celestial and terrestrial.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Since then, Diederich&#39;s projects have included a successful <a href="http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/752279352/luminous-flux-photography-book" target="_blank">Kickstarter campaign</a> to fund his first photography book, &quot;Luminous Flux&quot; (the cover of which featured &quot;Pentagram Perception&quot; and was created with the help of <a href="https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=2&amp;ved=0CDMQFjAB&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wbez.org%2Fblogs%2Fbritt-julious%2F2013-03%2Fground-building-new-art-communities-chicago-106218&amp;ei=kaeoUun5GaGr2QX2yYDIBg&amp;usg=AFQjCNER4uLl13nA6M1LzMyF2-7zN-UNxw&amp;sig2=aGqXN3xYK2ybV4wX5Dg7AA&amp;bvm=bv.57799294,d.b2I" target="_blank">Matt Austin and The Perch</a>), an exhibition at Johalla Projects, and directing a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&amp;v=lmg3uXezQCY">music video</a>.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>His tumblr,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.beodddierich.com/" target="_blank">Be (T)Odd Die(De)Rich</a>,&nbsp;remains the most prominent and updated source for his work. It is also where he has gathered a substantial fanbase of other artists and creatives.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;I do what I love. I&#39;m trying to continue with that,&rdquo; Diederich said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s all I can meditate on.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Each blog post gives a look at a sliver of Diederich&rsquo;s life, and the blog as a whole is a visual diarie that reveals without sacrificing the friendships and bonds he has formed with his subjects. It&#39;s his reality shared with those who may not live in Englewood or attend underground balls, but are curious.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Diederich understands this, certainly more than most, and captures within each photograph the complexity of his settings and subjects&mdash;their wealth and ambition, their pride and beauty, their youth and tradition.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;I am really photographing a strange reflection of my minds eye,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Subjects are friends, or friends of friends, or new friends. Situations can be loving, sweet, soft, angry, demonic and ugly. But the energy attracted me. It&#39;s one element of the magic of photography.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He makes a point of mentioning that he is not afraid of death. And so he makes art that looks like his subjects are willing to die for their performances or relationships or passions. During the course of our two-hour long interview, Diederich recounts stories and anecdotes which are at once humorous, shocking, and unnerving.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;I photograph for the future, for the next Earth, the one after this era ends,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Because if I&#39;m reincarnated again, it would be fun to see what really went down in this place called Chicago.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>His use of pineal gland&nbsp;or &quot;third eye&quot;&nbsp;activation plays a large part in his vision, allowing him to unlock a personal vision that captures more than just the essence of his subjects and settings. He also recognizes their humanity and leaves it open to be visually consumed by audiences online and in person.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Since I noticed their energy I am sure others will,&rdquo; Diederich said. &ldquo;They are not ignored, they are just down the street from me vibrating.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>David Weinberg Photography is located at 300 W Superior, Suite 203.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Britt Julious&nbsp;blogs about culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow her essays for WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/">here</a>&nbsp;and on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Wed, 11 Dec 2013 12:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-12/inside-eye-photographer-todd-diederich-109348 Body Talk: What Chicago author Samantha Irby gets right http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-12/body-talk-what-chicago-author-samantha-irby-gets-right-109308 <p><div><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Meaty-_CHUNKY_UPPER_CASE_JAN_2013-624x998.jpg" style="float: left; height: 496px; width: 310px;" title="(Amazon)" />Chicago writer&nbsp;and performer&nbsp;<a href="http://bitchesgottaeat.blogspot.com/">Samantha Irby</a> is not obsessed with her body. She knows it for what it is, and keeps going anyway.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Listen homie, that thing that you secretly hate about my body? Don&rsquo;t worry, I hate it, too. With every fiber in my weird, fibrous breasts,&quot; she writes in her essay &quot;Forest Whitaker&rsquo;s Neck,&quot; from her recent book, &quot;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Meaty-Essays-Samantha-Creator-BitchesGottaEat/dp/0988480425">Meaty:&nbsp;Essays by&nbsp;Samantha Irby</a>.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In the essay, she recounts a comment from a sort-of ex while in bed together. At the time she wasn&rsquo;t sure about the extent of their relationship, and his random comment&mdash;&ldquo;you have the tiniest nipples I have ever seen&rdquo;&mdash;certainly did not help.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Every mark, every scar, every scratch, every flaw: I&rsquo;ve seen it, documented it, cried over it, and tried to hide it. Would it kill you to pretend it isn&rsquo;t there?&rdquo; she writes.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Womens&#39; relationships with men are not like our relationships with ourselves. With ourselves, we see exactly what we walk with from day to day. In relationships, at least in the flawed relationships Irby tries to build, willful ignorance is the root of contentment.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Can&rsquo;t we just lie fully clothed in bed together while holding hands and talking about how good pork belly tacos taste? I don&rsquo;t want to do the &quot;I&rsquo;m sorry this is my disgusting body&quot; apology jig ever again, nor will there ever be a time that the &ldquo;just let me keep my shirt on&rdquo; waltz isn&rsquo;t utterly humiliating,&rdquo; she writes.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A blissful relationship, one before the rawness of seeing the body, her body, is what she wants. But like what she seeks in the actions of a man, this is willfully ignorant of the realities of partnership. Relationships are not all pretty and sweet. Like the body, there are things to critique and hate and finally accept about them, too.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Later in &quot;Forest Whitaker&rsquo;s Neck,&quot; she recounts every detail of herself she does not like. &ldquo;Dark red mark from ingrown hair on the upper inside chunk of calf,&rdquo; she writes in the section about her left leg. &ldquo;Pale, raised scar from when I threw myself down a flight of stairs at age six as protest against accompanying my mother to the grocery store,&rdquo; she writes about her arms.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Rather than just finding new and new things to hate, each mention of her body feels like a story brewing. She knows why she does not like it; she is still living and breathing anyway.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Society understands women can be obsessed with the female body, but what we fail to realize is the extent of that obsession. As a young teen, I used to spend nights circling the worst areas of my body with a thick marker.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Getting outside of my head was my biggest concern. Although I wrote down my fears and anxieties and anger in my notebook, writing was not enough. Pen and paper were just an extension of the obsessions of my mind. I repeated these fears and anxieties enough to call my journal less of an account of the things I did and more of an account of the things I could not let go.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The body was (literally) the biggest one. At my obsessive peak, school markers turned into permanent markers. The circles stretched over the back of my thighs, my ass, the little tops of my shoulders&mdash;scarred from years of painful acne that never went away, but bubbled up to the service to fester in its own bacteria, leaving pockets of hyperpigmentation. Permanent marker was a &ldquo;permanent&rdquo; reminder. &#39;You will never be the person you want to be if you continue to look like this.&#39;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>My face, the worst, I never marked. I could control it&mdash;its roundness, acne, scars, discoloration&mdash;with makeup. Unlike clothing, which only served to remind me of of things I could not change or do with my body, makeup could transform me into something new. (That I could barely apply foundation evenly mattered little.)</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>I am in a constant battle for control and conquest of the machinations and limitations of my body. It&#39;s why I danced until I was a teenager, and that is why I love to watch dance now, as a confirmation of achievement. Dance is knowing yourself, taking control of yourself, and seeing yourself&nbsp;completely. It is a truth that can be beautiful as much as it can be ugly in our wrestle for power.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>There is this idea&mdash;cold and inescapable&mdash;that we must be reminded of everything we lack. Some believe that we do not know that we are fat or tall or scarred. They think we do not see ourselves so they must remind us of how we exist in their eyes, how we lack something fundamental to the norm, how we are not right.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But with adulthood comes the reckoning of our understanding of ourselves.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Later in her essay, Irby adds, &ldquo;Or that&mdash;brace yourself&mdash;it might make me mysterious and sexy?&rdquo; She has been through the pains of literally growing into her body and she is beyond it, accepting of it; perhaps even a little proud of it.&nbsp;</div></p> Thu, 05 Dec 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-12/body-talk-what-chicago-author-samantha-irby-gets-right-109308 Youth and the city http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-12/youth-and-city-109289 <p><div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP332906622549.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="(AP/Paul Beaty)" /></div></div><div>&ldquo;I forgot how easy it is to be young here,&rdquo; a friend said to me over the holiday weekend. He was in town visiting his mother, and he made the statement in assessment of a night out.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It&rsquo;s true.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In Chicago, it is easy to find quality entertainment, cheap drinks, delicious food, and relatively affordable living and transportation options, especially compared to other cities.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>His comments reminded me of another from last year. A friend visited the city to see whether or not she wanted to move here. In the end, she chose New York. In terms of her career, it made sense. But did Chicago not provide enough of a challenge? Does it matter if Chicago is &ldquo;easy&rdquo; compared to other cities?&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Well, for one, who said that Chicago is easy?&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Earlier this summer, another friend said, &ldquo;Everyone&rsquo;s just dying,&rdquo; when explaining one of his reasons for wanting to move out of the city. Despite the frequent reports of violence in the city, it is easy to forget that the ease and accessibility of the city do not exist for a large segment of the city&rsquo;s population. Many of the amenities and much of the entertairnment people enjoy in the city tends to cater to one specific population.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Despite Chicago&rsquo;s conflicting narrative, many organizations do find the city worthy of praise. Chicago was ranked as the <a href="http://www.youthfulcities.com/#!Chicago/zoom/c5tu/i4awu" target="_blank">6th most &ldquo;youthful&rdquo; city</a> (out of 25 large urban global cities) as part of the 2014 YouthfulCities Index, created as &ldquo;the first index to rank cities from a youth perspective.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>For their index, the top five largest cities were chosen from five regions: Africa, Asia, English-speaking North America, Europe and Latin America. Youth was defined as 15-29 years old, and categories included public space, transportation and affordability and employment and fashion, among others.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Their rankings were based on 10 months of research with more than 75 people, &ldquo;contributing to 16 categories, 80 Global Indicators, and 2000 data points.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>What does all of that mean?&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Well, for many young people, especially those fresh out of college, Chicago provides an ideal environment to thrive. We have many youth-friendly neighborhoods, bars, music venues, cheap restaurants, and affordable housing. But is any of this sustainable?&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>According to YouthfulCities, &ldquo;50 per cent of the world&#39;s population is under 30 years of age and 50 per cent of the world&#39;s population now live in cities.&rdquo; What happens when that population ages? In Chicago, growing out of the &ldquo;youthful&rdquo; phase does not always offer the accessibility and ease that can be found when young.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>According to the Index, Chicago ranks 2nd in public space, sports, and gaming. Our thankful abundance of public parks, beautiful waterfront, and loveable sports teams speaks to this easily. A middle-class lifestyle as a young 20-something is an ideal situation in Chicago.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>However, a middle-class lifestyle while trying to raise young children presents new hurdles. In the Index, Chicago ranked 21st overall in environmental sustainability. And while the Index claimed we were ranked 6th in the &ldquo;Economic Status Sub Index&rdquo; (comprised of indicators such as minimum wage, housing, and student housing), it does not speak to the sustainability and viability of these numbers in the long run.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Thirty-five is not as easy as 25. And with greater adulthood comes greater concerns.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Where are the quality, affordable, and accessible education options for all children? Where are the numerous housing options in safe neighborhoods? Where are the jobs that provide more than just the minimum wage?</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>According to the Index, <a href="http://media.wix.com/ugd/3a3a66_f8a747d9e1b244ceade7cdc6a6c90c3f.pdf" target="_blank">Chicago ranks 16th</a> in &ldquo;Civic Participation,&rdquo; a number that is not terrible, but is not worthy of praise. Only one American city &ndash; New York City &ndash; ranks within the Top 10. For Chicago to sustain itself as a city beyond &ldquo;youth&rdquo; it must grow into a place that is livable for all. And it is the people living within it (especially the youth who find it so charming and easy right now) who must take greater steps to secure its future.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Britt Julious&nbsp;blogs about culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow her essays for WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/">here</a>&nbsp;and on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></div></p> Tue, 03 Dec 2013 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-12/youth-and-city-109289 In defense of the selfie http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-11/defense-selfie-109225 <p><div><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20130215_031431.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 310px; float: left;" title="" />I joined Facebook during the summer before my freshman year of college and nearly every photo I used as a profile picture was a selfie.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Back then, we didn&rsquo;t have a name for them. Some people referred to them as &#39;angled shots&#39; or &#39;MySpace photos,&#39; for their ubiquity on that social networking site. The chorus of &#39;vanity&#39; and &#39;deception&#39; was as evident then as it is now. People were upset by others&rsquo; desire to control their visual narrative.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>One day, an old high school friend left a comment on my Facebook wall asking why I could not just find a decent photograph of myself that I did not take. It was the first time I considered the difference between a photo of my making and a photo someone else took of me.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Oxford Dictionaries recently <a href="http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/press-releases/oxford-dictionaries-word-of-the-year-2013/" target="_blank">named</a> &quot;selfie&quot; as its word of the year.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Numerous writers responded, including&nbsp;News Editor&nbsp;Erin Gloria Ryan of Jezebel, who <a href="https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=2&amp;ved=0CDkQFjAB&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fjezebel.com%2Fselfies-arent-empowering-theyre-a-cry-for-help-1468965365&amp;ei=yWyPUqrlBIipqwHAsYCoAQ&amp;usg=AFQjCNGfYkGx1eSegWROvMnpT2QbK8LLwg&amp;sig2=ea3yPmZ3oGcB9ZkQvnEeOQ&amp;bvm=bv.56988011,d.aWM" target="_blank">described</a> selfies as a cry for help, a sign that we are in desperate need of validation from others.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Young women take selfies because they don&#39;t derive their sense of worth from themselves, they rely on others to bestow their self-worth on them &mdash; just as they&#39;ve been taught,&quot; she wrote.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But I think her view ultimately reduces why people use technology and choose to manipulate their own image.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Online reaction largely critcized Ryan&rsquo;s article for its limited view of why people take selfies, as well as for her implied desire to erase the existence of self documentation. Social media users started using the hashtag #FeministSelfie to extend the conversation outside the Jezebel article, and to document themselves in ways that were goofy and weird and lovely.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Those selfies documented people that deem the practice not as a way to ask, &#39;why?&#39; but, &#39;why not?&#39;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Ryan&#39;s interpretation of the photo as a cry for help disregards the personal autonomy and self-esteem of the photographer. For many, selfies are a solution to the problem. They are not looking to please others, but instead to please themselves &mdash; to see themselves outside the harsh eyes of others.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>During college, I was obsessed with looking at nightlife photography not because I wanted to be photographed, but because I loved the narrative framed around the images. Nightlife photographs give some of the pieces, but let the audience fill in the rest of the story. In my mind, the story was better than anything I could have imagined with just words alone.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>When I was out for the night, however, I did whatever possible to avoid nightlife photographers. I did not want to be captured in their vision, and I did not want others to see what was not there, to form their own narratives and create an idea of the evening that outpaced and outweighed its reality.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20120818_132854.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 310px; float: right;" title="" />In his seminal collection of essays and vignettes on photography entitled &quot;Ghost Image,&quot; French photographer <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herv%C3%A9_Guibert">Herve Guibert</a> wrote, &ldquo;We alone can intercept the gaze that we exchange indirectly through a reflection. The consent in our gaze is our secret alone, a mirage suspended in air that will soon disappear.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Guibert&rsquo;s thoughts are on the photographer as well as the subject. Looking at the camera is a way to provide consent to the one creating the narrative. But if we are the ones creating the image of ourselves, then our consent is a conversation with the self.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>I cannot speak for everyone, but for me, a good selfie is a way to reject how other people see you. It is a way to see oneself as one chooses, not as others see us. It takes control of our own visual narratives, as if saying, &#39;This is the story I want to tell.&#39;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Sometimes selfies act as a fun documentation of the places in which you were alone. I have selfies inside weird art installations, cool hotel lobbies, and dark club bathrooms. Sometimes I share them, but often, I keep them for myself like an added layer of memory.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Self photography acknowledges that we are alive, that we exist. For people whose existence (say as a woman, or a person of color, or a person with a disability, etc.) is often denied in mainstream culture or reduced to stereotype, perhaps a selfie is a way to control the narrative by documenting their time, alive and moving about the world like the people we see across media platforms.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Many of the selfies I see are not just about &ldquo;good hair&rdquo; or perfect makeup or trying to look sexually desirable. Some post selfies after a long night working on their masters thesis or in celebration of a marathon or as a documentation of their weight-loss. I&rsquo;ve seen selfies in elaborate stage makeup before theater performances and in the days after being laid off. I don&rsquo;t think these people are just looking for encouragement or for others to say how pretty they are.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Their selfies feel more like a stake in the land, a declaration of time and place, a sentence in a chapter in the novel of their lives.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Is this giving too much credence to the power of the selfie? Maybe.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>There will always be people who only see the selfie as a form of vanity. And there will also always be people who post excessively, who need to insert themselves into the ongoing &#39;conversations&#39; of social media with their visage because they need validation. But for many, the selfie is a project itself. It is a way of seeing oneself in the world and sharing it with others. It is multiple things at once.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div><div><div property="content:encoded"><div><em>Britt Julious&nbsp;blogs about race and culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow her essays for WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/">here</a>&nbsp;and on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></div></div></div></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 22 Nov 2013 09:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-11/defense-selfie-109225 Chicago traditions beyond pizza: Italian beef, hot dogs, and jibaritos http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-11/chicago-traditions-beyond-pizza-italian-beef-hot-dogs-and-jibaritos <p><div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2481464011_0bc3b7b88a_b.jpg" style="height: 267px; width: 400px; float: left;" title="Chicago style jibaritos are clearly a specialty here. (Flickr/supafly)" /><strong>Jon and Rahm on pizza&nbsp;</strong></div></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Last week,&nbsp;The Daily Show host Jon Stewart went on a <a href="http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-november-13-2013/tower-record">hilarious rant</a> about his disdain for Chicago-style deep dish pizza, and Chicagons reacted not so much in anger, but dismay. How could anyone deny deep dish pizza? It&rsquo;s our greatest culinary export!&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A couple days later, Mayor Rahm Emanuel <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-mayor-pizza-slam-20131115,0,7053662.story" target="_blank">sent</a> two deep dish pizzas covered in anchovies to the comedian. &ldquo;Jon, deep dish with dead fish. Love, Rahm,&rdquo; reads a handwritten note.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>And while the stunt was a welcome reprieve from the city&#39;s more pressing affairs, it also reminded me of Chicagoans&rsquo; typical reaction to outsiders that make misinformed judgements about the city.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The truth is, people who don&rsquo;t know Chicago will probably not like it. But instead of reacting to judgements, what we as Chicagoans could do is share the things that make our city&nbsp;as rich and unique as it is.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Finding food variety&nbsp;</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>First, there are multiple types of Chicago-style pizza. And in my opinion, the variety people talk about the most &ndash; deep dish &ndash; isn&#39;t the best.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>I&rsquo;m not new to Chicago. This has been my home for 26 years, and for all that time, my family and I (along with many others on the North, West, and especially South Sides) have been more likely to eat Chicago thin crust pizza than deep dish.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Besides being cheaper, it&#39;s more accessible both in availability and ease of consumption. Square cut and crunchy on top, Chicago thin crust pizza remains one of my favorite local culinary traditions.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Pulling from tradition&nbsp;</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Food in Chicago is not just what we eat; it helps define our way of life. It is who we are and where we came from. Despite its faults, this is a city&nbsp;born out of the dreams and aspirations of people from across the globe, and our food traditions reflect that.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>You can see this in a Chicago food blog <a href="http://chicago.seriouseats.com/2013/09/chicago-food-glossary-a-guide-to-the-windy-citys-unique-eats.html?ref=search">Serious Eats post</a>&nbsp;that gives&nbsp;a &quot;glossary&quot; of Chicago food. More than just a list, it&#39;s a means of exploring Chicago&rsquo;s diversity and food history.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Like all great cities should, Chicago has a collection of dishes that were invented within its borders and that you can&#39;t get anywhere else,&quot; wrote blogger Nick Kindeslperger. &quot;Some are so well known they&#39;ve entered the national discussion, while others are so esoteric they may only be familiar to those in a certain part of town.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Kindeslperger breaks down everything from the Chicago-style hot dog to Italian beef, the <a href="http://chicago.seriouseats.com/2013/09/chicago-food-glossary-a-guide-to-the-windy-citys-unique-eats-slideshow.html#show-352874">Maxwell Street Polish</a> to the <a href="http://chicago.seriouseats.com/2012/07/the-10-best-jibaritos-in-chicago.html">jibarito</a>&nbsp;(a personal favorite). The list traverses cuisines with ancestral leanings from cross continents, but all are also firmly rooted in the inventive, hearty culinary traditions of the Midwest.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>To me, this multiplicity&nbsp;is a big part of what makes Chicago great. So rather than dwell on those who can&rsquo;t understand one style of our pizza, let&#39;s point them to the equally remarkable and delicious foods we call our own.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>When friends from out of town ask me what to do here, I usually tell them to eat the food &mdash;&nbsp;to go outside their comfort zone and discover that Chicago is more diverse than they could have ever imagined.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Britt Julious&nbsp;blogs about race and culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow her essays for WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/">here</a>&nbsp;and on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></div></p> Wed, 20 Nov 2013 14:45:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-11/chicago-traditions-beyond-pizza-italian-beef-hot-dogs-and-jibaritos Learning to love neighborhood bars http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-11/learning-love-neighborhood-bars-109144 <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/8402763858_5e9fc174fe_z.jpg" style="height: 443px; width: 620px;" title="(Flickr/swanksalot)" /></div><div><p dir="ltr">What makes for a great neighborhood bar? To me, its main quality exists in comfort.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Are the drinks priced well? Are the seats comfortable? Are the people more than decent? A great neighborhood bar &mdash; a great dive bar in particular &mdash; is especially enjoyable on weekdays, when raucousness is abandoned for quiet and a night cap. Expressions like &#39;pleasant,&#39; &#39;decent&#39; and &#39;just right&#39; should be used liberally.</p><p dir="ltr">In college, I lived in Chicago&#39;s Lincoln Park. I remember going to a bar a block away from me once, hoping to find an alternative to treking to other parts of the city for a night out. I handed the doorman my ID, but what should have been a quick once-over became uncomfortable. His stare was equal parts lascivious and questioning, as if saying, &lsquo;You don&rsquo;t belong here, but I&rsquo;ll let you in if you&rsquo;re a good girl and ask nicely.&rsquo;</p><p dir="ltr">I never went back.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;All we&rsquo;ve got in Chicago is a bunch of TV screens and dive bars,&rdquo; I once said to a friend while leaving the Belmont &#39;El&#39; stop. &ldquo;And I hate it.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">After a life spent growing up in and around the city, I was itching for some place different, some city that didn&rsquo;t feel as familiar as Chicago. (But I kept that to myself.)</p><p dir="ltr">I thought my friend would agree with me, but he said, &ldquo;You know what? I actually like them. Well, the dive bars at least.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Really?&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Yeah,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Good neighborhood places &hellip; They&rsquo;re just easier.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">I had no idea know what he meant &mdash;yet.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Later, I moved to Ukrainian Village. (More specifically, I moved to East Village, but trying to explain where that is, even to life-long Chicagoans, can be difficult.) I chose the area because I didn&rsquo;t want to live on the North Side, but didn&#39;t want to live as far west as where I&#39;d grown up either.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">It was here that my perspective on Chicago bars changed. On a rainy day during a friend&rsquo;s May birthday, we went to her favorite local bar, <a href="https://plus.google.com/117082116597132344066/about?gl=us&amp;hl=en">Innertown Pub</a>.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The place was packed, the lights were charming, and the walls seemed to tell their stories. Located on a quiet East Village street, this was the kind of bar I was unfamiliar with, but immediately knew I could love.</p><p dir="ltr">In college, I never felt at ease at downtown clubs, sports pubs, or dive bars. Instead I spent most of those years frequenting places that catered to the North Side hip-hop crowd. We listened to classic and modern hits, with a sprinkle of 90&#39;s R&amp;B for good measure.</p><p dir="ltr">There, I felt a kinship both to the people and the setting. There was no pressure to look sexy or cool. I did not think about whether my hair was pressed right or if my jacket was new enough. This was Saturday night, but it felt as real as a Tuesday.</p><p dir="ltr">I looked for spaces that had something unique about them, but their characteristics were often the same &mdash; decor, beer list, music.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Innertown felt different, and that&#39;s what made calling East Village home easy. Soon, I discovered other places I jived with: the dance vibes of Club Foot, the beautiful decor and excellent drinks of Bar Deville, the everyone-you&rsquo;ve-ever-known atmosphere of Rainbo, the ease of Happy Village, the curiousness of Nilda&rsquo;s.</p><p dir="ltr">I&#39;ve lived in this neighborhood for more than two years now, and being here has shown me a part of the city I never would have given a chance, had it not been for places like these.</p><p dir="ltr">Perhaps this is just a phase, and in two years I&rsquo;ll be singing another tune. But for now, it feels just right.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Britt Julious&nbsp;writes about race and culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&rsquo;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/taxonomy/term/22437/" target="_blank">essays for WBEZ</a><a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com">&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;and on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 13 Nov 2013 10:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-11/learning-love-neighborhood-bars-109144 For fashion, if it's all white, it's all right http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-11/fashion-if-its-all-white-its-all-right-109069 <p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-43b2ccfa-2338-ad57-6380-9b69538baf6c"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP924745381151%20%281%29.jpg" style="width: 620px;" title="(AP/Zacharie Scheurer)" /></span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>Fashion is one of the last major industries to publicly and profoundly act as a system of discrimination and exclusivity. And Kanye West &ndash; despite his strange and inaccurate comments comparing his fiance, Kim Kardashian, to the FLOTUS, Michelle Obama &ndash; has recently come out with comments that touch on the industry&#39;s perpetual exclusion. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>In an interview with Ryan Seacrest on KIIS-FM, he <a href="http://guardianlv.com/2013/11/kanye-west-kim-kardashians-fashion-more-influential-than-that-of-michelle-obama/" target="_blank">said</a>, &ldquo;What I want to create isn&rsquo;t about black and white, but the reason why I&rsquo;m not able to create what I want to create is about being black, and is about classism.&rdquo; </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-43b2ccfa-2338-ad57-6380-9b69538baf6c">The music industry works differently. It is not less racist, but it is more inclusive. It is driven more by profit (allowing for a more diverse array of voices) than by inclusiveness or exclusiveness. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>Although the music industry also has a long history of cultural appropriation, the vast numbers of musicians and output has allowed people of color to flourish and cross boundaries in successes that can still be found in other industries such as the film, television, and yes, fashion industries. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-43b2ccfa-2338-ad57-6380-9b69538baf6c">Kanye has not yet differentiated the two industries and he exists with a worldview in which success in one area can translate to another. His quotes may seem silly or idealistic, but they actually reflect a progressive challenge to the fashion industry that has yet to budge on its methods of exclusion. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-43b2ccfa-2338-ad57-6380-9b69538baf6c">We allow the fashion industry to exist in this world of exclusivity and have for too long. It remains under the radar and most discussions about its exclusivity happen sporadically and only within its close, small circles. We&rsquo;ll see an editorial or two from a feminist or women&rsquo;s-oriented website. But for the most part, the general public does not understand how little the industry values inclusion. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-43b2ccfa-2338-ad57-6380-9b69538baf6c">For most of us, our interactions with fashion are through the trends that have been reinterpreted from the runways and mass produced. We are not on the direct lines of the design process, the model selection, or the print publications. There is less choice for the public which makes it easier to exclude our voices. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-43b2ccfa-2338-ad57-6380-9b69538baf6c">This is more difficult in areas like film and television, where our choices to watch &ndash; or not watch &ndash; have ripples that affect projects already on the air or in theaters and those in development. Although the last step in the Hollywood cycle, our direct participation is a key component to decisions made for the future (Consider the success of the first <em>Spiderman</em> and the glut of superhero movies we&rsquo;ve endured within the past decade as a result.). </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-43b2ccfa-2338-ad57-6380-9b69538baf6c"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP785523062393%20%281%29.jpg" style="height: 461px; width: 310px; float: left;" title="(AP/Thibault Camus)" />The fashion industry is not a right system, but we can&#39;t pretend that it does not exist and ignore the far-reaching and continuous damage it inflicts. Its white supremacy and thin advocacy creates a homogenous culture that denies millions of potential customers the opportunity to own what has been created and makes those that are within the system exist in a constant state of reaction, maintenance, and competition. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-43b2ccfa-2338-ad57-6380-9b69538baf6c">Recall the <a href="http://www.complex.com/style/2013/10/barneys-nypd-racial-profiling-trayon-christian" target="_blank">recent lawsuits</a> filed against the Barneys department store in New York City by two black customers. In one case, a young man named Trayon Christian was accosted by the NYPD under suspicion that he used a fraudulent credit card to purchase a $349 Salvatore Ferragamo belt. But the debit card and identification used to purchase the belt were his.&nbsp;These are clear cut examples of racial profiling, inherent to the very fabric of the fashion world. Underlying these incidents is the idea that black people can not possibly participate in the overpriced world of Barneys. Even if their forms of identification and debit cards form no problem (as was the case with the two lawsuits), their mere presence is cause for alarm. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>West <a href="http://www.complex.com/style/2013/10/kanye-west-fashion-rant-yeezus-tour" target="_blank">confirmed</a> as much in a recent 10-minute &quot;rant&quot; during his Yeezus tour about the fashion industry, comparing the incidents to the lyrics in his single &ldquo;New Slaves&rdquo; (&ldquo;</span>You see it&#39;s broke nigga racism, that&#39;s that &#39;Don&#39;t touch anything in the store,&#39; and it&#39;s rich nigga racism, that&#39;s that &#39;Come here, please buy more.).</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-43b2ccfa-2338-ad57-6380-9b69538baf6c">Soon after the Barneys controversy began, Jay Z, a collaborator with the store, <a href="http://lifeandtimes.com/a-statement-from-shawn-jay-z-carter" target="_blank">said</a>:&nbsp;</span></p><blockquote><p dir="ltr"><span>&ldquo;I am against discrimination of any kind, but if I make snap judgements, no matter who it&rsquo;s towards, aren&rsquo;t I committing the same sin as someone who profiles?&rdquo; </span></p></blockquote><p dir="ltr"><span>The prolific rapper and business man claimed that ending his collaboration with the store would ultimately hurt his foundation, The Shawn Carter Foundation, that stands to receive, &ldquo;25% of all sales from the collaboration, 10% of all sales generated in the store on November 20th and an additional donation from Barneys.&rdquo; </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-43b2ccfa-2338-ad57-6380-9b69538baf6c">Rarely can someone outside of the industry breakthrough and Jay Z&rsquo;s comments reflect the isolation, exclusivity, and change the system places on who they accept. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>Although he claims his decision to not pull out of the collaboration is solely about the lost funding opportunity for his foundation, he also makes a point of comparing the discrimination felt by the two customers to making &ldquo;snap judgments&rdquo; about the character of the store and its employees. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>Any rational person can understand that these two situations are in no way one in the same. Discriminating against black customers further perpetuates a hostile environment of who is and is not included in the elite fashion world. Making judgments about Barneys documented actions against black customers creates an opportunity to create change, to eliminate that environmental hostility. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-43b2ccfa-2338-ad57-6380-9b69538baf6c">The runways themselves are a perfect example too of the structural order. Rarely will one see a non-white face. Who belongs and who does not can be seen from the top (business executives, fashion designers) down. <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/08/fashion/fashions-blind-spot.html?pagewanted=2" target="_blank">According</a> to the <em>New York Times</em>, </span></p><blockquote><p dir="ltr"><span>&ldquo;After a notable increase in 2009 that followed extensive news media coverage, the representation of black models has remained fairly steady until this year, when they accounted for only 6 percent of the looks shown at the last Fashion Week in February (down from 8.1 percent the previous season); 82.7 percent were worn by white models.&rdquo; </span></p></blockquote><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-43b2ccfa-2338-ad57-6380-9b69538baf6c">Kanye West&rsquo;s obsession with the fashion industry is an important one and his comments must play out on a world stage. While seemingly humorous, in fact, they highlight the very real barriers between what is and is not considered fashion. It is absurd to Kanye that he (and his fiance, Kim Kardashian) have been excluded because of their successes and infamy. But those two things are not enough for an industry that largely incorporates non-white people only as the labor to hem and stitch and toil and nothing else.&nbsp;Certain bodies belong and others do not. Anything that differs from this structure must be an affront to its natural order. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>In fashion, it is inherently &ldquo;not good&rdquo; and &ldquo;not right&rdquo; because it is different. It is not white.&nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><em><span>Britt Julious&nbsp;</span>writes about race and culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 04 Nov 2013 07:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-11/fashion-if-its-all-white-its-all-right-109069 A lifetime of nightly trust http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-11/lifetime-nightly-trust-109058 <p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6b7ec9d6-1485-278f-0058-e6d409cffaf5"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/581727_120379431501714_1869507271_n.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Robin Robinson (Facebook)" />One thing I know for certain is that nobody faces scrutiny like a black woman. Or at least, that is what I have gained from personal experience. The scrutiny comes not just from non-black people. It also comes from within. Growing up, sometimes the harshest criticism came from women who looked just like me, who were expecting me to act or think or especially look a certain way. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6b7ec9d6-1485-278f-0058-e6d409cffaf5">When I first tried to go &ldquo;natural&rdquo; a couple of years ago, it was other black women, random strangers I met on the street who had the most to say. Granted, the acceptance of &ldquo;alternative&rdquo; black hairstyles has progressed rapidly within the past few years, but back then, the situation felt like a shaming from those I expected to offer the most amount of support. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6b7ec9d6-1485-278f-0058-e6d409cffaf5">I thought about this when media reporter Robert Feder <a href="http://www.robertfeder.com/2013/10/28/feder-photos-robin-robinsons-run/" target="_blank">announced</a> that long-time FOX 32 anchor Robin Robinson would be leaving the station. Feder wrote, </span></p><blockquote><p dir="ltr"><span>&ldquo;</span>Over the past 26 years, six men have occupied the Monday-through-Friday night anchor desk at Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32. And alongside all of them has been one woman &mdash; Robin Robinson.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6b7ec9d6-1485-278f-0058-e6d409cffaf5">Let that settle. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6b7ec9d6-1485-278f-0058-e6d409cffaf5">Although media outlets claim millennials only get their news online (if they get it at all), I still tune-in when I am home and I can. And growing up, I watched newscasts with my mother after our favorite broadcast network television shows ended. We listened to the stories, but we also commented on the appearances of the black women on the screen. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6b7ec9d6-1485-278f-0058-e6d409cffaf5">&ldquo;What is that new hairstyle?&rdquo; my aunt Sue used to ask to my mother about one of the women on the screen. Clothes were a constant source of amusement. We always commented when an anchor was &ldquo;upgraded.&rdquo; It wasn&rsquo;t necessarily out of maliciousness. &nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>Rather, it was a moment of pride and accomplishment by proxy. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6b7ec9d6-1485-278f-0058-e6d409cffaf5">Seeing faces that &ldquo;looked&rdquo; like us created a connection or bond that solidified our relationship to the newscasters. Our discussions were no different than our current discussions about Michelle Obama or even Olivia Pope on <em>Scandal</em>. In many ways, they were and are all one in the same: black, female, and in public. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6b7ec9d6-1485-278f-0058-e6d409cffaf5">They were not just faces on the screen. For women like Robin Robinson (or Cheryl Burton or Micah Materre or Allison Payne), it was a confirmation that we exist and that those in power acknowledged it. In 2013, we still face those same tribulations of recognition and acceptance. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6b7ec9d6-1485-278f-0058-e6d409cffaf5">Younger generations have thankfully been witness to a diverse array of newscasters. But in a city as hypersegregated as Chicago, our bevy of black female anchors felt like a fluke. Even now, I wait for the other shoe to drop. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-6b7ec9d6-1485-278f-0058-e6d409cffaf5">If broadcast news is intended to be as informational as possible to as many people as possible, the reality of a black woman presenting that information was and is not lost on me. The most vital information rested in her hands, in her trusted voice. I looked to her like another matriarchal figure to admire. I am 26 years old. There has never been a time when Robin Robinson has not been a voice of reason for the Chicago masses. That accomplishment is worthy of praise.&nbsp;</span></p></p> Fri, 01 Nov 2013 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-11/lifetime-nightly-trust-109058 Don't ignore the "diversity factor" http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-10/dont-ignore-diversity-factor-109000 <p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-3d52e672-ebd7-3d0f-e479-6ae2ed2d58a6"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1398363_540486319363338_1251593255_o.jpg" style="height: 429px; width: 620px;" title="(Facebook/Sleepy Hollow)" /></span></p><p dir="ltr">I won&rsquo;t say that the only reason why I first tuned into &quot;Scandal&quot; was because there was a character &ndash; the lead character &ndash; that looked like me, but that was certainly a major factor. Television, despite its fluctuating ratings and successes from network to network, has become a larger medium. Its influence and storytelling capabilities have become more influential and more important than films.</p><p dir="ltr">In fact, as the film industry moves closer and closer to a formula that avoids &quot;risk&quot; (whether risk means original storytelling, romantic comedies, or stories featuring women), television &ndash; with its abundance of channels and numerous options available at any given moment &ndash; has become more experimental in its presentation.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-3d52e672-ebd7-3d0f-e479-6ae2ed2d58a6">On the surface, it is ridiculous to say &ldquo;adding diversity&rdquo; is a risk. With ensemble casts, it is easy to throw in a black or East Asian face and call it a day. Whether or not the character is interesting or relevant to the show&rsquo;s structure as a whole matters little. Their presence should presumably be enough. But visibility can only go so far. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-3d52e672-ebd7-3d0f-e479-6ae2ed2d58a6">It&rsquo;s not a matter of just adding new faces. It&#39;s a matter of showing that these faces are here for a reason, that they matter, that the show could not function without them there. That is a true sign of diversity. That the faces and bodies are different, yes, but also that they are just like anyone else: flawed, charismatic, and central to what makes a show &ldquo;click.&rdquo; </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-3d52e672-ebd7-3d0f-e479-6ae2ed2d58a6">Few television creators are bucking this trend, but there are noticeable, successful exceptions. Shonda Rhimes, the creator of &quot;Grey&rsquo;s Anatomy,&quot; recently cancelled</span> &quot;Private Practice,<span>&quot; and still rising &quot;Scandal,&quot; has found a formula that works: cast based on talent rather than physical appearance. Her shows regularly feature leads of a variety of different races and ethnicities (not just &ldquo;black,&rdquo; which many lazy executives recognize as the only type of diversity necessary). And by sticking to this formula of casting for quality over race, Rhimes&rsquo; shows have found a home with millions of viewers. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-3d52e672-ebd7-3d0f-e479-6ae2ed2d58a6">&nbsp;<a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/176301651/Hollywood-Diversity-Brief-Spotlight-2013" target="_blank">A new study</a></span>&nbsp;from the UCLA Bunche Center for African American Studies reported television shows that featured a cast of 40-50% people of color performed the best in median household ratings in 2011-2012. To boot, casts that were more than 90% white performed the worst, both cable and broadcast television.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-3d52e672-ebd7-3d0f-e479-6ae2ed2d58a6">According to a </span><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/08/arts/television/08foge.html?pagewanted=print&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">New York Times article</a>, Rhimes &ldquo;didn&#39;t specify the characters&#39; ethnicities,&quot; in the pilot of &quot;Grey&#39;s Anatomy,&quot; her first show, &quot;so her casting process was wide open.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><span>Sandra Oh reportedly shaped her character </span><span>Christina Yang when she walked in the door: </span></p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-left:36pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-3d52e672-ebd7-3d0f-e479-6ae2ed2d58a6">&ldquo;Even though some network executives assumed Ms. Oh&#39;s hypercompetitive character would be white, Ms. Rhimes did not - in the pilot&#39;s script she wasn&#39;t even given a last name - so all it took was one &quot;fabulous&quot; audition from the &quot;Sideways&quot; star to christen the character Cristina Yang.&rdquo; </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-3d52e672-ebd7-3d0f-e479-6ae2ed2d58a6">The success of Rhimes&#39; shows have given ABC much needed life. Outside CBS, the remaining three major networks are struggling to create a new hit, yet Rhimes has managed to produce one with nearly every new show.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-3d52e672-ebd7-3d0f-e479-6ae2ed2d58a6">More recent examples include FOX&rsquo;s &quot;Sleepy Hollow.&quot; It features black, Hispanic, and Korean-American actors, and was the first new show of the 2013-2014 television season to get an order for a second season. This same formula can be found in movies, such as the &quot;Fast and Furious&quot; films which have become more successful as they get more diverse.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>Many young black adults of my generation consider the &#39;90s to be the golden era of diverse TV. It was a time when shows featuring black actors with agency, hopes, fears and character development was a reality. Our childhoods made shows like</span> &quot;Living Single,&quot; &quot;Family Matters,&quot; and &quot;The Fresh Prince of Bel Air&quot; <span>seem like the norm rather than the exception. It seems now our golden era was merely a fluke, a series of network decisions to capture the trend of black people on television and ride it to a final conclusion in which there would be none at all. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-3d52e672-ebd7-3d0f-e479-6ae2ed2d58a6">In 2013, the issue is not just about blacks on television, but about a variety of different races, ethnicities, genders, and bodies on television. Our understanding of diversity has expanded since then. Blacks are used as the default because of our history as the country&#39;s largest minority population, but &ldquo;the black factor&rdquo; and the&ldquo;diversity factor&rdquo; remain at issue. If the &#39;90s were the golden era, then the aughts were the draught. In this new decade, let&#39;s reverse the damage.&nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><em>Britt Julious is the co-host of&nbsp;<a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbezs-changing-channels" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Changing Channels</a>, a podcast about the future of television. She also writes about race and culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 24 Oct 2013 14:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-10/dont-ignore-diversity-factor-109000