WBEZ | identity http://www.wbez.org/tags/identity Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en StoryCorps Chicago: “I grew up wanting to be white” http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-chicago-%E2%80%9Ci-grew-wanting-be-white%E2%80%9D-113264 <p><div><div><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/StoryCorps%20151009%20Eboo%20Patel%20bh.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 300px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="Eboo Patel (Couresy of StoryCorps)" />Eboo Patel was born in India and came to the United States with his parents when he was two years old. At the time, Patel&#39;s father was completing his MBA at the University of Notre Dame. Patel is the founder of <a href="https://www.ifyc.org/" target="_blank">Interfaith Youth Core</a>, a Chicago-based nonprofit that encourages collaboration among college students from different religious backgrounds. When Patel stopped by the StoryCorps booth in September, he talked about how the seeds of his work with the Interfaith Youth Core were sown from his own experiences at school.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>This story was recorded in partnership with the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/MALANational" target="_blank">Muslim American Leadership Alliance.</a></em></div><div>&nbsp;</div></div><div><div><em><a href="http://www.storycorps.org">StoryCorps</a>&rsquo; mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to share, record and preserve their stories. These excerpts, edited by WBEZ, present some of our favorites from the current visit, as well as from previous trips.</em></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 11:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-chicago-%E2%80%9Ci-grew-wanting-be-white%E2%80%9D-113264 Meet Mozzified, a site for Ramadan recipes, Sharia memes and nosy-auntie jokes http://www.wbez.org/news/meet-mozzified-site-ramadan-recipes-sharia-memes-and-nosy-auntie-jokes-113223 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Zainab Khan.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res446254259"><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Zainab Khan, founder of Mozzified.com" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/06/zainab-sweater-14a436f4f9de96a56d09df6909ee3e116fd48f4a-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 456px; width: 610px;" title="Zainab Khan, founder of Mozzified.com (Courtesy of Zainab Khan)" /></div><div><div><p>A Muslim pop culture website: The idea seemed so obvious, Zainab Khan waited years for someone else to make one. A place for jokes about nosy aunties, sharing hijab hacks and Ramadan recipes, and advice on navigating Minder (yup, there&#39;s a Muslim Tinder).</p></div></div></div><p>But existing sites for young Muslims tended to focus on international news and politics.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/10/07/445261490/mozzified.com">Mozzified</a>, which Khan launched in January while attending journalism school at the University of California, Berkeley, is geared toward what Khan and her friends call &quot;Mozzies,&quot; young, socially aware Muslims who might, say, &quot;binge-watch&nbsp;Friends&nbsp;on Netflix, play basketball after Friday prayers and buy eco-friendly products.&quot;</p><p>Khan and a team of four classmates have put out dozens&nbsp;of articles on everything from Muslim street artists to the whereabouts of a post-One Direction Zayn Malik. The site thrives on inside jokes, like the&nbsp;<a href="http://mozzified.com/2015/02/26/thoughts-every-muslim-has-while-making-wudu-in-a-public-restroom/">12 thoughts every Muslim has while prayer cleansing in a public restroom</a>.</p><p>What you won&#39;t find? Apologies. Khan looks for content that she thinks will appeal to other young Muslims, and says she refuses to pander to fear-mongers or Islamophobes.</p><p>Khan expected the site to be popular with people like her &mdash; high school and college students who grew up with Muslim and American identities. She says she&#39;s been surprised at how many young Muslims from Australia, the U.K., Pakistan and India have been checking the site out, too.</p><p>Given that her target audience is one of the world&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pewforum.org/2015/04/02/religious-projections-2010-2050/">fastest-growing&nbsp;</a>demographic groups &mdash; Pew estimates there will be&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pewforum.org/2011/01/27/future-of-the-global-muslim-population-main-factors/#age">540 million Muslim youth worldwide</a>&nbsp;by 2030 &mdash; Khan says Mozzified is just getting started. I had a few questions for her:</p><div><hr /></div><p><strong>So, what does </strong><strong>Mozzified</strong><strong> mean?</strong></p><p>Mozzify is a made-up word. At Wesleyan, we had a small but active Muslim Students Association, this really cool community of international students and people from across the country who all had shared experiences, and we started calling each other &quot;Mozzies.&quot; The idea was this intersectional identity of being everything else&nbsp;and being Muslim.</p><div id="res446105150"><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="&quot;Food&quot; on Mozzified.com" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/05/mozzified-website-751d6905118ded8701230137d6b31a3c07dc06d6-s600-c85.png" style="height: 458px; width: 610px;" title="&quot;Food&quot; on Mozzified.com (Mozzified.com)" /></div><div><div><p>To &quot;mozzify&quot; is to take something from any culture and reinterpret it through a Muslim lens. So, for example, when I walk into a Nordstrom and I see a rack of scarves, I&#39;m like, &quot;Oh, that&#39;s the hijab section.&quot; Being a Mozzie, I&#39;m filtering the information that I&#39;m seeing. I think a lot of people do this, and it&#39;s really, really powerful for us to be able to give voice to that community.</p></div></div></div><blockquote><p><em>To &#39;</em><em>mozzify</em><em>&#39; is to take something from any culture and reinterpret it through a Muslim lens. So, for example, when I walk into a Nordstrom and I see a rack of scarves, I&#39;m like &#39;Oh, that&#39;s the hijab section.&#39; - Zainab Khan, founder of&nbsp;</em><em>Mozzified</em></p></blockquote><p><strong>Why did you start this website?</strong></p><p>I wanted to do something for people like me, in college or in high school, who are maybe the only Muslim students in their entire school, or just one of a few. They have these experiences that are very similar, but they don&#39;t know that there are massive groups of people throughout the world who are experiencing the same thing.</p><p>I grew up in a traditional Pakistani Muslim household, but being at Wesleyan University was the first time that I saw people perform both their American and Muslim identities comfortably. That was something that was really foreign to me, because growing up in my household, to be Muslim meant to be Pakistani, but here I was, a kid who was raised in the suburbs of Chicago. I didn&#39;t feel very culturally Pakistani. But at Wesleyan, I noticed this unique culture of Muslims owning all of our identities.</p><p>I had a Muslim chaplain who was Egyptian and American Muslim, and the first time I saw her, she was wearing a Gap hoodie, a long denim skirt and a hijab. I thought that kind of epitomized this Muslim American identity, and that was really cool. As a kid, I was agnostic in high school, I wasn&#39;t practicing, and then I get to one of the most liberal colleges in this country and I saw that it was possible to perform all of my identities and to do it well.</p><p>How does your site address Muslim identity differently from spaces that already exist on the Web?</p><p>There&#39;s two ways to form an identity. One is by deciding who you are not, and in my opinion that&#39;s a very dangerous way to form an identity, because you&#39;re building yourself based on reactions rather than affirmations. So I wanted to create something that was based on an &quot;I am&quot; sort of identity formation.</p><p>But there&#39;s a vast breadth of knowledge on Islam and Muslims on the Web already, and I don&#39;t feel the need to re-explain. Instead, I get to have my contributors and myself and this large, large, large group of people share their stories as they want to, and as they see them. I think post 9/11, a lot of Muslims and a lot of Muslim organizations have gotten into this trap of being apologetic, and always responding. It&#39;s much more powerful to tell your own story on your own terms. I think it&#39;s really healthy for us as Muslims, as communities, to start understanding ourselves from inside out rather than outside in.</p><p><strong>What&#39;s next for </strong><strong>Mozzified</strong><strong>?</strong></p><p>There&#39;s a whole bunch coming. We&#39;re going to do a &quot;dirty laundry&quot; column, a platform to talk about the issues that we as a community want to ignore. The idea is that I want Mozzified to be an inclusive space for all kinds of Muslims. I don&#39;t really turn anyone away.</p><div id="res446351016"><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Mozzified is a website about Muslim pop culture." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/06/mozz-final-picture-bottom-ef22142cea0c46e089d778655f1788e5ab9f95c6-s600-c85.png" style="height: 456px; width: 610px;" title="Mozzified is a website about Muslim pop culture. (Mozzified.com)" /></div><div><div><p>One of my really good friends wants to write a piece called &quot;The F-word.&quot; And it&#39;s not the F-word that you would imagine; it&#39;s &quot;feminism.&quot; Why does that cause such a reaction in the community? Really exploring things that need to be aired out, airing out our dirty laundry. That&#39;s something I&#39;m really excited about.</p></div></div></div><p>Articles you&#39;ve written in the past that have gotten large reactions, both positive and negative: What were some of those reactions, and how have those experiences affected the way you pick what goes on Mozzified?</p><p>I&#39;m so happy the community called me out for this: I wrote a piece for the&nbsp;<em>Islamic Monthly</em>&nbsp;called &quot;<a href="http://theislamicmonthly.com/deconstructing-the-hijabi-bride-even-islam-in-america-is-hegemonic/">Deconstructing the Hijabi Bride</a>.&quot; When I talked about American Islam, I didn&#39;t even know that I was doing it, but I was promoting second-generation, educated Arabs and Pakistanis and South Asians as the communities that represent American Islam. People were really quick to call out the fact that I had completely disregarded black American Muslims, African-American Muslims and West African Muslims. I&#39;m thinking about model minorities, and within the American Muslim communities, who interacts with whom, whose narratives we are trying to erase, whose narratives we are not giving prominence. I think putting that piece out there was great in making me more self-aware.</p><p>I&#39;ve written pieces that end up on all these sub-Reddits where people just hate me, they hate my face, hate everything that I have to say. At first it&#39;s alarming, but I learned fairly quickly what it takes to do this kind of stuff. It&#39;s prepared me for the Internet and reactions in general.</p><p>My first major decision with Mozzified was that I don&#39;t want our posts to be reactionary. That&#39;s my philosophy when it comes to building an American Muslim voice, or a Muslim voice, or identity formation, whatever it may be. I wanted to do things on our own terms. Obviously, there&#39;s gonna be some news that really calls for our reaction, but for the most part, I still have the philosophy of, just put it out there and see what happens. I don&#39;t think it&#39;s smart to hold back.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/10/07/445261490/meet-mozzified-a-site-for-ramadan-recipes-sharia-memes-and-nosy-auntie-jokes"><em>via NPR&#39;s Code Switch</em></a></p></p> Wed, 07 Oct 2015 12:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/meet-mozzified-site-ramadan-recipes-sharia-memes-and-nosy-auntie-jokes-113223 What was it like raising three biracial children? http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/what-was-it-raising-three-biracial-children-111666 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/StoryCorps 150306 Judy and Rosa Ramirez bh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Rosa Ramirez was in basic training in the Army, when she came across a girl in her barracks with red hair and blue eyes. &ldquo;What kind of blood do you have?&rdquo; Ramirez asked her. &ldquo;Do you see the world blue?&rdquo;<br /><br />Ramirez had gone to high school in Texas and spent time picking fruit in the fields of California. But when it came to race, she was clueless.<br /><br />Ramirez tells her daughter, Judy, in this week&rsquo;s StoryCorps, &ldquo;In my hometown, it was Mexicans and whites. We didn&rsquo;t have any idea about blacks or Germans or Italians.&rdquo;<br /><br />Rosa Ramirez served four years in the military before moving to Virginia, where she met her future husband. Her daughter asked what it was like when Rosa told her parents she wanted to marry a black man?<br /><br />Rosa says her father was going to disown her. But then Rosa&rsquo;s mom stepped in and changed his mind. By the time the wedding day arrived, he agreed to walk Rosa down the aisle.<br /><br />Rosa and her husband lived with their kids in Richmond, Virginia, in a mostly black neighborhood.</p><p>&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t realize how prejudiced it was towards biracial children until I started hearing it from you guys in middle school&rdquo; Rosa recalled, &ldquo;It was either you&rsquo;re going to be black or you&rsquo;re going to be white. If you were hanging with your white girlfriends they wanted your hair straight. If you were hanging with your black sisters, they wanted you to have curly hair.&rdquo;<br /><br />Rosa says she never stopped to think about the repercussions of marrying outside of her race. But she was able to teach her kids about both sides of their family&rsquo;s cultural heritage.</p><p>The message she wants Judy to pass down to her own son now is: &ldquo;You can have degrees and money, but without love and familia, you&rsquo;re nothing.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Alicia Williams helped produce this story.</em></p></p> Fri, 06 Mar 2015 14:09:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/what-was-it-raising-three-biracial-children-111666 StoryCorps: Interracial couple travels to Ferguson, Missouri http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-interracial-couple-travels-ferguson-missouri-111086 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/StoryCorps 141107 Helene Lucas_bh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Helene Matumona was born in Zambia, but grew up in Canada.</p><p>&ldquo;Chicago is very different from Vancouver,&rdquo; she says in this week&rsquo;s StoryCorps. &ldquo;When you&rsquo;re here, you really feel like you&rsquo;re black. I think that&rsquo;s how I would describe my stay in Chicago: I feel black.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not trying to divide myself,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;You know, ideally I want to live in a society where there aren&rsquo;t tensions. Where we can all just be cool with each other.&rdquo;</p><p>Matumona came to the booth with her husband, Lucas Weisbecker, who is white. He asked her about their recent visit to St. Louis and the protests in nearby Ferguson.</p><p>&ldquo;It was just really tense at times,&quot; she says. &quot;Because you could feel the anger and you could feel just how fatigued the African-Americans in St. Louis were.&rdquo;</p><p>Weisbecker asks: &ldquo;Going to those protests, did that change your idea of what it means to be black?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Yeah. Cause I&rsquo;m an African immigrant,&quot; she says. &quot;And I feel like there&rsquo;s a difference there. Versus being an African-American and going through these struggles, the Civil Rights movement and slavery and all that. There&rsquo;s definitely a different story there. There&rsquo;s a different fight.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I went down there to try to see what was happening,&rdquo; Weisbecker explains. &ldquo;To try to feel the vibe of what was going on. And try to get a story from people that are actually there and experiencing like&hellip;because obviously there&rsquo;s a lot of underlying issues beyond just one kid getting killed. People react that way because there&rsquo;s a systemic problem and it&rsquo;s not being addressed.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;And you go down there and you see kids being basically fed up with the way things are and trying to make a difference,&rdquo; Weisbecker continues. &ldquo;The one thing I kept thinking about though was how is this actually going to make a difference in the end.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;There needs to be a direction. And there needs to be somebody or a group or an idea that puts everything into a direction, because if there&rsquo;s no direction it&rsquo;s just going to be unbridled anger, which is justified, but it is not necessarily going to change what it is that people are upset about.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It was so cool to see people out in the streets talking about politics and the issues. And I think that&rsquo;s the first step to developing a direction. And you really need to be so on point to make change. And it was like: We were marching, We were yelling. We were talking. And it was just like: Okay, what&rsquo;s the action? What are we going to do?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;d say, I left with a lot of questions.&quot;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="888px"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 07 Nov 2014 16:20:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-interracial-couple-travels-ferguson-missouri-111086 Transgender man learns to accept love http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/transgender-man-learns-accept-love-110424 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/StoryCorps 140627 Nick Heap.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>&ldquo;I was the oldest of three girls and I had really only male friends for most of my growing-up years,&rdquo; Nick Heap says in this week&rsquo;s StoryCorps. &ldquo;I had long, long blonde hair, long enough I could actually sit-on-it, blonde.&rdquo;</p><p>Nick grew up female and transitioned to male as an adult. He recorded his story as part of a partnership between StoryCorps Chicago and the<a href="http://transoralhistory.com/"> <u>Trans Oral History Project</u></a>.</p><p>As a kid, Nick was a &ldquo;tomboy&rdquo; who enjoyed riding around the neighborhood on his dirt bike, without a shirt on. His parents were supportive of expressing his identity as much as they understood it, but he struggled to understand himself.</p><p>In seventh grade, Nick wrote anonymous love letters to a girl at school who figured out pretty quickly who was writing them. &ldquo;Within days it was all over the school,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;The harassment I would get after that was daily.&rdquo;</p><p>Nick&rsquo;s parents were called into the principal&rsquo;s office, but they stood firm: &ldquo;Is she causing an academic disruption in the classroom?&rdquo; they asked. &ldquo;So she wrote some notes to another kid. Kids do that.&rdquo;</p><p>Nick says that years later he talked to the girl who passed his notes around. She became a family counselor as an adult and they were able to talk through the experience in a healing way.</p><p>Even with that kind of support, for a long time it felt like he was on the outside looking in.</p><p>&ldquo;It was really hard feeling like I was utterly alone,&rdquo; Nick says. &ldquo;Now that I am passably male one hundred percent of the time, I am finally free to express those aspects of myself that are feminine, safely. But for so long, I spent so much of my life being ultra-masculine.&rdquo;</p><p>Over time, Nick has learned to have more patience with his family and himself.</p><p>&ldquo;For so long in my life, I couldn&rsquo;t feel the love of all the people around me,&rdquo; Nick says. &ldquo;It was like I was walking around inside a shell of armor. And their love just couldn&rsquo;t get to me. I couldn&rsquo;t feel it. I saw it, I knew it was there, I just couldn&rsquo;t feel it. And today that&rsquo;s not the truth. I can absolutely experience all this amazing love that has been all around me all the time and I&rsquo;m able to give that back to people now.&rdquo;</p><p>In June,<a href="http://storycorps.org/outloud/"> <u>StoryCorps launched the &ldquo;Out Loud&rdquo; initiative</u></a> to collect stories from LGBT people. One of these stories will be broadcast nationally on NPR each week for the next year.</p><p>The Trans Oral History Project continues to collect stories in partnership with StoryCorps Chicago. They <a href="http://transoralhistory.com/uploads/toolkit/ilive-interactive.pdf">recently published a toolkit</a> for gay-straight alliances and community organizations that work with LGBT youth.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 27 Jun 2014 07:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/transgender-man-learns-accept-love-110424 Native American elder recalls isolation of early days in the city http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/native-american-elder-recalls-isolation-early-days-city-110193 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/140516%20StoryCorps%20Susan%20Kelly%20Power%20and%20Fr%20Peter%20Powell.JPG" style="height: 525px; width: 350px; float: left;" title="Susan Kelly Power and Father Peter Powell came by Chicago’s StoryCorps Booth to talk about the history of Native Americans in Chicago. (Photo courtesy of StoryCorps)" />In the early 1950s, Chicago was home to less than 1,000 Native Americans. By 1960, that number had grown to 10,000, in large part because of changes to federal policy.</p><p><a href="http://www.pbs.org/indiancountry/history/relocate.html">The Indian Relocation programs of the 1950s</a> enticed many Native Americans to move from reservations to big cities, including Chicago. But many Native people felt isolated in their new surroundings, disconnected from their traditional cultures.</p><p><a href="http://aic-chicago.org/">The American Indian Center</a> was formed in 1953 in Uptown as a sanctuary for Native people. Father Peter Powell and Susan Kelly Power were among the Center&rsquo;s founders. Power, 89, is a Native American who grew up in North and South Dakota and moved here as a teenager.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20065509,00.html">Powell, who is white, has spent his career serving as a priest to the Native American population of Chicago.</a> They stopped in the StoryCorps booth recently to talk about how life has changed for Native American people since the 1950s.</p><p>&ldquo;In the early days of Relocation, it was a deliberate policy of the Indian Bureau to scatter people from the same tribe so they wouldn&rsquo;t get together,&rdquo; Father Powell said. A friend told him how she used to stand next to a poster of the ballerina Maria Tallchief because she was one of the only Native American she knew of in Chicago.</p><p>Native people helped each other adjust to city life, &ldquo;but the loneliness for home never left us,&rdquo; Power said. She made a name for herself recording the traditions of the various cultures.<a href="http://www.newberry.org/center-american-indian-and-indigenous-studies-fellowships"> The Newberry Library has a fellowship named in her honor, for scholars of Native American culture.</a> &ldquo;Everyone has a history and no one&rsquo;s history should be forgotten,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>More than six decades after it opened, the American Indian Center still stands in Chicago&rsquo;s Uptown community at 1630 W. Wilson.</p><p>&ldquo;That first generation [of Native Americans in Chicago] &ndash; so wonderfully traditional &ndash; was the foundation for our community today,&rdquo; Father Powell said. &ldquo;And the heart of that community is the American Indian Center.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;If you&rsquo;re around us long enough, you become part of us and you feel it,&rdquo; Power said. &ldquo;Come up to our center sometime and you&rsquo;ll see. Indians are never nosy about if you&rsquo;re worth knowing, if you&rsquo;ve got a good enough job or a place to live in. Should I take the time to know you?&rdquo;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F6250422" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 16 May 2014 11:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/native-american-elder-recalls-isolation-early-days-city-110193 I am [enter neighborhood here]: A city of mistaken identities http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-03/i-am-enter-neighborhood-here-city-mistaken-identities-106389 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/28263300_7952a34522_z.jpg" title="(Flickr/G. Chris Clark)" /></p><p dir="ltr">We embrace stereotypes of neighborhoods because they sometimes prove to be true. I live near Wicker Park, a neighborhood known for its nightlife and youth culture. Although this identity is not as strong as it once was (gentrification has a way of changing the identity of a neighborhood multiple times), it is still prevalent in the clothing stores, boutiques, high-end coffee shops, and club-like bars that line Milwaukee Avenue. Once we&rsquo;ve seen our stereotypes to be true, we hold on to them. It is easier to rely on what we know than what we don&rsquo;t. Seeing once is believing.</p><p dir="ltr">But we often stereotype these neighborhoods because our identities are tied into these environments. I had a friend and coworker who moved to Logan Square not because he wanted to, but because he felt it was the thing he was supposed to do.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I mean, all of my friends are moving there. Everyone my age, <em>like me</em>, has moved or is moving there,&rdquo; he said while we chatted at a party.</p><p dir="ltr">Chicago as a city of neighborhoods can mean a number of different things. This cultural identity can be comforting. People of similar races, ethnicities and classes move to neighborhoods where they can be among their own. We find comfort in the familiar, in what we know and what we&rsquo;ve always known. But our city of neighborhoods often isolates, creating a series of &ldquo;Chicagos,&rdquo; but not one that can represent the city as a whole.</p><p dir="ltr">In a recent blog post, my friend and interfaith scholar and activist Hafsa Arain <a href="http://salaamworld.tumblr.com/post/45591381949/when-people-talk-about-safe-neighborhoods-they" target="_blank">wrote</a> about this same situation. Although she wrote about a town outside of the city, her concerns and observations ring true for inside Chicago as well. She wrote:</p><blockquote><p dir="ltr">If you don&rsquo;t know how violence works in places you are unfamiliar with, then you have no basis for saying that those places should be kept away from entirely. I worked in Chicago Heights last summer - gang violence and gun violence are on the rise there - but there are also families with children who go to school. There are people getting their groceries, people walking their dogs on the street. When you tell me their lives are nothing but violence, you limit the neighborhood and the people who live there.</p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">I recognize this, both the limitations and the realities. People describe the South Side as if it is one monolithic place with one singular identity: dangerous, foreign, a Chicago &ldquo;not our own.&rdquo; Nevermind how far it stretches, the variety of classes, the numerous (and often ignored) racial populations, the beautiful beaches and massive parks. No, people don&rsquo;t know or don&rsquo;t want to know these things. To them, it is just violence, thus limiting the neighborhoods (because there are many and not just one) and the people living in them.</p><p dir="ltr">My experiences living and playing on the West Side of Chicago in the Austin neighborhood as a child feel different than living in Lincoln Park as a college student or in Ukrainian Village as an adult. This is not just about age. These neighborhoods have completely different identities. I have friends who have told me they could never go to the Austin neighborhood because it is filled with crime, but my experiences growing up and my experiences visiting now tell me different things. It is a neighborhood that is not wealthy, but filled with lots of families. There are large homes that take up wide plots of land. There is a lot of crime, but there are also block organizations. There are block parties. If anything, Austin feels like the part of Chicago I don&rsquo;t tend to think about as a 25-year-old woman: the working, settled down, normal, &ldquo;everywhere else&rdquo; Chicago.</p><p dir="ltr">Stereotypes, whether negative or benign, are a way of showing how a neighborhood is not &ldquo;me.&rdquo; There is a way of showing who I am and how I live and what I want to be, and living in one neighborhood versus another can signal those things. Likewise, dismissing one neighborhood over another is a way of confirming our &ldquo;nots.&rdquo; I am <em>not</em> drunken. I am <em>not</em>&nbsp;fratty. I am <em>not</em> mainstream. Our very essence is not part of this neighborhood or the people within it. It is not therefore I <em>am</em>.</p><p dir="ltr">Stereotyping neighborhoods limits what we know about the city. It allows us to miss out on musical venues, restaurants, architecture, and many of the other things that make Chicago such a culturally-rich city.</p><p dir="ltr">I was (and still am in many ways) an insecure woman worried about what others think of me. Talking to new friends now about where I lived in college, I was often hesitant to say Lincoln Park or Lakeview and rationalized my time there as just a student going to DePaul. &nbsp;<em>Well, those places are not who I am right now</em>, I used to rationalize. I was not identifying myself as someone from those neighborhoods. My time there was only transient. My identity was and is not Lincoln Park. My own personal weaknesses and immaturity acted as a barrier for others to better know other parts of the city and for myself to understand and appreciate where I was and what I had. I loved the abundance and access to a variety of different food options. Uptown was only minutes away. I still crave the convenience, the numerous methods of public transportation, the facade of safety.</p><p dir="ltr">As a college student, I spent long nights dancing and drinking in the back room of <a href="http://www.aliveone.com/" target="_blank">aliveOne</a> where my friend <a href="https://twitter.com/djcastle" target="_blank">Nick</a> spun hip-hop and r&amp;b. The space felt different than everywhere else in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. And when I had friends ask why I didn&rsquo;t want to go to other parts of the city, I simply explained how perfect a night spent listening to Mary J. Blige and sipping cheap drinks can feel. The experience reminds me of similar venues I find throughout my current Ukrainian Village neighborhood. The music might not be as wonderfully selected by a pro, but it is the simplicity of the experience, the familiar faces, and the settling in one spot that feels just as pleasant. Why malign Lincoln Park when I know, like anywhere else in the city, there is good and bad?</p><p dir="ltr">When we stereotype, we limit our scope and participation in what a city actually is. By confining ourselves to the identities of our neighborhoods, we are confining ourselves to these actual physical spaces. The stereotypes and identities then become true. <em>This is what it means to live here</em>. But we are multi-faceted people and likewise, this is a multi-faceted city. To suggest otherwise gives Chicago little credit for its history, its diversity, and what it can become in the future.</p><div><em>Britt Julious blogs about culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for <a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a> or on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></div></p> Fri, 29 Mar 2013 07:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-03/i-am-enter-neighborhood-here-city-mistaken-identities-106389 From Chicago Out to the World: Advancing LGBTQ Human Rights http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/chicago-out-world-advancing-lgbtq-human-rights-107029 <p><p>This program focuses on important Chicago-based work directed toward ensuring the human rights of LGBTQ people internationally. It is moderated by <strong>Sid Mohn</strong>, president of Chicago&rsquo;s Heartland Alliance, and includes presentations on asylum policies, LGBTQ rights abroad, and queer political identities by <strong>Keren Zwick</strong> and <strong>Stefano Fabeni</strong> of Heartland Alliance, and <strong>Lynette Jackson</strong> of the University of Illinois at Chicago.</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/CHM-webstory_13.jpg" style="float: left;" title="" /></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Recorded live Thursday, March 21, 2013 at the Chicago History Museum.</p></p> Thu, 21 Mar 2013 11:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/chicago-out-world-advancing-lgbtq-human-rights-107029 Neighborhoods: I live here, therefore I am http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-01/neighborhoods-i-live-here-therefore-i-am-104761 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/4081723478_b984e742cf_z.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="(Laurie Chipps)" /></p><p>I know this feeling, if only a little bit. Everyday I wake up to see the sun. I am nostalgic for an unremembered past. But the way my mother has gripped my rough, cold hands with her warm, thick fingers made the memories visceral, as if they were my own and not hers. These memories she passed on to me as fables, as rituals, and as a source of heritage.</p><p>I&rsquo;m thinking about the city and segregation. What does it mean to belong? My father&rsquo;s family often regarded my mother and my sisters with suspicion. He was from the South Side; my mother was from the West. They were both born in the South, in Alabama and Mississippi, but neighborhoods and cities have a way of changing you. Chicago in particular changes you. This is said a lot, but Chicago is truly a city of neighborhoods. And it is this configuration of neighborhoods that both welcomes and stifles diversity. You are free to be who you are, so long as you are over <em>there</em>. Lines can and have been drawn both inter- and intra-culturally.</p><p>My parents settled on the West Side, an area &ndash; like the South Side or the North Side &ndash; that is complex and complicating. It was important for my parents that we maintained a connection to family in both parts of the city. The older I was, the more it felt like a desire to maintain a connection to the identities of the West Side or the South Side, these black enclaves in the city. We lived in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago, but eventually settled in Oak Park, a suburb of the city that is both wealthy and active. If Chicago is a city that &ldquo;brushes under the rug,&rdquo; Oak Park is a city that tries. Often times, it is the effort more than anything else that defines the relations from neighbor to neighbor.</p><p>Cultural identity is important but it can also be crippling in that what we often define to be &ldquo;ours&rdquo; is not right or healthy or meaningful. I&rsquo;m weary of anyone&rsquo;s idea of what it means to be black or what it means to be a woman or what it means to be young. Experience tells me that the truth is more nuanced and less familiar.</p><p>I currently live in the Ukranian Village neighborhood of Chicago. I can&#39;t say whether or not the people who also live here see very many faces like mine. But after years spent living in Lincoln Park and Lakeview during college, I am used to feeling and looking out of place.&nbsp;</p><p>In late October, I came home from a night out with friends to confront a cab driver who questioned my place of residence. He did not want to know <em>why</em> I lived where I live. He wanted to know how this was possible.</p><p>&quot;You live here,&quot; he asked. I said yes.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;This isn&#39;t a black neighborhood,&quot; he said.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;And?&quot; I asked.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;What&rsquo;s a black girl doing living in this neighborhood?&rdquo; he continued. &ldquo;You shouldn&rsquo;t be living over here. You should be living with your people.&rdquo;</p><p>Telling friends of this conversation, they were more upset by the situation than I was. I have been here my entire life. I don&rsquo;t say this to suggest that this is the truest definition of the city. I say this because identity, like the neighborhoods here, is complex.</p><p>What I&rsquo;m talking about is constructed identities, not necessarily our own constructions. I am where I live and where I Iive is who I&rsquo;ll always be. What I&rsquo;m talking about are the narratives that were born long before us and will exist long after us. I want to say, this is who I am as a person. But the world says, this is where you&rsquo;re from and so this is who you are. Stay put.</p><p>Chicago faces the results of years of suppression and disintegration. I&rsquo;ve noticed this source of conversation in many local news outlets and I don&rsquo;t think it is as much a trend so much as it is the tipping point of questions of the future, of what it will mean to be a Chicagoan five or ten or fifteen years from now. Will things be as they are? Like a lot of matters&nbsp;regarding the city, the answers are not cut and dry. For a city like this, I would hope not.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Follow Britt on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 10 Jan 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-01/neighborhoods-i-live-here-therefore-i-am-104761