WBEZ | race http://www.wbez.org/tags/race Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Why does South Shore still not have a grocery store? http://www.wbez.org/news/why-does-south-shore-still-not-have-grocery-store-110699 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/South Shore grocery thumb.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The hallmarks of urban retail saturate East 71st Street: beauty supply, dollar, cell phone and gym shoe stores.</p><p>But most noticeable is the 65,000 sq. ft. vacant space in a strip mall at 71st and Jeffrey Boulevard. On the outside, it looks like someone rubbed the beige building with an eraser &ndash; the faded Dominick&rsquo;s lettering the only hint this used to be a bustling grocery store.</p><p>Last December, the grocery chain Dominick&rsquo;s closed all of its doors, including 13 in Chicago. All of the vacant stores found a new grocer to fill the space &ndash; except the one at 71st and Jeffrey Boulevard in the predominantly black South Shore neighborhood. Now residents there wonder why they&rsquo;re being left out.</p><p>More than eight months after it closed, South Shore residents say all they want is a proper supermarket to take its place. Not another discount or liquor store that sells food on the side.</p><p>&ldquo;Food is the common denominator. How we break bread, how we sustain ourselves so it&rsquo;s a great metaphor. Everyone has to eat,&rdquo; said resident Anton Seals.</p><p>Seals said residents should be able to do that in their own neighborhood.</p><p>&ldquo;Part of the angst that people feel is that we are tired of leaving our community; thus leaking the dollars, not helping where we are.&rdquo;</p><p>Val Free, president of The Planning Coalition, a local community group, agrees.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Dominick&rsquo;s closing brought the community together. And that&rsquo;s a win-win. And we&rsquo;re going to get the grocery we want. The kind of grocery store we want,&rdquo; Free said.</p><p>South Shore organizers are taking steps to make sure that happens. They&rsquo;ve hosted several community meetings, circulated a survey and met with city officials.&nbsp; In some ways their fight for a grocery store is part of a larger struggle playing out across the city. The intersection of race and retail often leaves African-American consumers short on access to goods and services. Even basic ones like where to shop for dinner.</p><p>This is especially true on the South Side where many neighborhoods, regardless of income, are food deserts. Juxtapose this with some areas on the North Side awash in grocery stores. Recently, residents of Wicker Park <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20140710/wicker-park/wicker-park-trader-joes-plan-dead-after-grocer-pulls-out" target="_blank">rejected a new Trader Joe&rsquo;s due to traffic concerns</a>.</p><p>Over the past decade, more grocery stores have opened in Chicago overall. But many on the South and West Sides feel left out when their only nearby food options are discount chains.</p><p>&ldquo;On the South Side of Chicago in general, we experience retail redlining. There&rsquo;s a certain kind of marketing. When we talk about institutional racism, it&rsquo;s the dismissal of communities that have income and that expendable income,&rdquo; Seals said.</p><p>South Shore is a dense, truly mixed-income neighborhood. Mansions and multi-unit apartment complexes share alleys. The community has a median income of $28,000 but there are thousands of households earning more than $75,000.</p><p>Seals said the kind of grocery store matters too.</p><p>&ldquo;We definitely didn&rsquo;t want what&rsquo;s considered low-end grocer like a Save A Lot or Food for Less in South Shore because we also wanted the new store to be a kind of catalyst for the economic resurgence we need.&rdquo;</p><p>Mari Gallagher is a researcher and expert on food access issues and said South Shore has really been a misunderstood market for a long time.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s a lot of buying power in South Shore. And I know from the research and I know&nbsp; anecdotally people who live in South Shore who go all the way down to Roosevelt Road or Hyde Park to do their shopping. There&rsquo;s a lot of leakage, money leaving these neighborhoods,&rdquo; Gallagher said.</p><p>She said black Chicago has long struggled to nab quality retail. Billions of dollars leave the community each year and are spent in other neighborhoods.</p><p>&ldquo;And it&rsquo;s not necessarily because they can&rsquo;t support it as a consumer base and certainly people do eat as part of the human condition,&rdquo; Gallagher said.</p><p><a href="http://www.targetmarketnews.com/" target="_blank">Target Market News</a> is a consumer research group that tracks black spending and found that black households traditionally outspend whites and Latinos on fruits and vegetables and items that have to be cooked to be eaten. In the Chicago area they spend approximately $240 million on fresh produce annually.</p><p>&ldquo;So why do certain neighborhoods have quality grocery stores and other neighborhoods have none or just very very few, perhaps one?&rdquo; Gallagher said, adding that changes in the grocery industry perpetuate this gap.</p><p>&ldquo;That was the case when Jewel and Save A Lot were corporate siblings and the parent company decided well, we really can&rsquo;t have a Jewel in every neighborhood. So instead we&rsquo;ve put Save A Lots in those neighborhoods. There were those kind of changes and people misunderstand the African-American market.&rdquo;</p><p>Some retailers are beginning to get the message.</p><p>Mariano&rsquo;s is set to open in Bronzeville, a neighborhood long starved for better grocery options. The fast-growing chain also announced plans to open at 87th and South Shore Drive. The site is across from a lucrative development in the works on the former steel mills site. Meanwhile, Whole Foods is experimenting nationally by building in low-income areas. This summer they broke ground for a store in Englewood.</p><p>Meanwhile, back in South Shore they&rsquo;re still waiting.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think you can take race out of the equation. Not just for the grocery business but just for commercial real estate in general,&rdquo; said Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th.)</p><p>Hairston said she&rsquo;s in conversation with other stores and is open to a grocer bypassing 71st Street for another South Shore location.</p><p>But she&rsquo;s also not giving up on the former Dominick&rsquo;s space. Although it&rsquo;s empty, the lease runs until 2015. The owner of the property is Shirven Mateen. He lives in Los Angeles and declined to be interviewed.</p><p>Hairston is in communication with him. She said she even flew to L.A. to meet with him &ndash; but it didn&rsquo;t happen.</p><p>&ldquo;From what I&rsquo;m understanding what they are looking for in the price per square foot exceeds, is about 40 percent higher than what the market will bear so that in fact is an impediment,&rdquo; Hairston.</p><p>So the alderman is trying to reach the absentee landlord through moral appeals.</p><p>&ldquo;We can&rsquo;t control the economy. What has happened has happened, but you are located in a community that needs to have a grocery store. You&rsquo;re the vessel for that and we basically need you to do the right thing. We understand the business component of it but I need you to understand the human component of it,&rdquo; Hairston said.</p><p>Just last week, Hairston finally got what she&rsquo;d been asking for. She gave Bob Mariano, CEO of the grocery chain, a tour of her ward to view potential sites. No word yet if anything will be built, but one thing&rsquo;s for sure, the CEO didn&rsquo;t like the 71st Street location.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a> Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em>.</p><iframe width="100%" height="450" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/48706770&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true"></iframe></p> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/why-does-south-shore-still-not-have-grocery-store-110699 Ebola in Liberia http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-08-13/ebola-liberia-110644 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP814365172299.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Liberia is now &quot;Ground Zero&quot; of the current Ebola outbreak in Western Africa, but the country received good news yesterday in the form of an experimental drug shipment to come from the U.S. We&#39;ll talk to a Chicagoan who is working to send other humanitarian supplies to Liberia.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-ebola-in-liberia/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-ebola-in-liberia.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-ebola-in-liberia" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: Ebola in Liberia" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 11:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-08-13/ebola-liberia-110644 At 73, man finally gets diploma denied for defying segregation http://www.wbez.org/news/73-man-finally-gets-diploma-denied-defying-segregation-110630 <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/alva_earley-a17bdc9d17e8995d9664441c77e10fe34ab01d8f-s40-c85.jpg" style="height: 464px; width: 620px;" title="Alva Earley shows off his diploma after receiving it from Galesburg Superintendent Bart Arthur. (Evan Temchin/Knox College)" /></div><p>There was no pomp and circumstance, no procession with classmates, but on Friday a school district in Illinois finally handed Alva Early his high school diploma &mdash; more than five decades after he attended Galesburg High School.</p><p>In 1959, Galesburg banned Earley from graduating and denied him a diploma after he and other African-Americans had a picnic in a park that was unofficially off-limits to blacks.</p><p>Earley, now a retired attorney, says he never thought the day would come, but as the Galesburg class of &#39;59 gathered for a reunion this weekend, the school superintendent called Earley forward, dressed in his college gown, to accept his diploma.</p><p>A school counselor had warned him in 1959 there could be a price to pay for challenging the city&#39;s entrenched segregation &mdash; but Earley went anyway.</p><p>&quot;We were just trying to send a message that we are people, too,&quot; Earley says. &quot;We just had lunch. For that, I didn&#39;t graduate.&quot;</p><p>Universities, including Northwestern and the University of Chicago, withdrew their acceptance letters. The president of Knox College in Galesburg later allowed Earley to enroll after learning about the park incident.</p><p>Earley went on to graduate from the University of Illinois, and earn a law degree and a doctorate of divinity. The lack of a high school diploma always haunted him, though. Growing up with an abusive father, Earley says, high school was both his home and a refuge.</p><p>&quot;The fact that I could not get a cap and gown on and march down the aisle with my classmates &mdash; it meant the world to me,&quot; he says. &quot;It hurt so bad.&quot;</p><p>He kept it a secret until a Knox College reunion last year, when he told some of those former high school classmates, including Owen Muelder.</p><p>&quot;Well, we were thunderstruck,&quot; says Muelder, a Knox College historian who runs the Underground Railroad museum on campus.</p><p>&quot;Here&#39;s this community and college founded before the Civil War, that was a leader in the anti-slavery movement,&quot; he says, &quot;and here it was that a little over 100 years later something so outrageous could have occurred in our community.&quot;</p><p>Muelder and another classmate, Lowell Peterson, turned to Galesburg school officials for help. Superintendent Bart Arthur says after a search, the district found Earley&#39;s transcript, which showed he had enough credits and was even marked with the word &quot;graduate.&quot;</p><p>&quot;He had A&#39;s and B&#39;s on his report card,&quot; Arthur says. &quot;I guess he did have a couple C&#39;s. One of them was in typewriting, and I can sure understand that.&quot;</p><p>In a sometimes-emotional speech during the ceremony, Earley thanked his former classmates.</p><p>&quot;The important thing was not that I got the diploma,&quot; he said. &quot;It was that they tried to get me a diploma. They succeeded. They cared about me.&quot;</p><p><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">&mdash;</em>&nbsp;<i><a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2014/08/10/339212827/at-73-man-finally-gets-diploma-denied-for-defying-segregation">via NRP&#39;s Code Switch blog</a></i></p></p> Mon, 11 Aug 2014 11:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/73-man-finally-gets-diploma-denied-defying-segregation-110630 Chicagoans living longer than ever before, but racial gap remains http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagoans-living-longer-ever-racial-gap-remains-110334 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Morality.png" alt="" /><p><p>The average Chicago resident now lives to be nearly 78 years old, seven years longer than the local population lived just twenty years ago. A <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/cdph/statistics_and_reports/LifeExpectancyinChicago1990-2010.pdf" target="_blank">new report</a> from the Chicago Department of Public Health shows that life expectancy in Chicago grew twice as fast as the national average.</p><p>But an existing disparity between the life expectancy rate of white and black residents was stubbornly persistent. Black residents die younger than white residents by about seven years, a slightly narrower gap than in 1990. And the divide between black and white males didn&rsquo;t budge at all.</p><p><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/cdph/auto_generated/cdph_leadership.html" target="_blank">Dr. Bechara Choucair</a> is the health department&rsquo;s commissioner. He said public policy helped increase the average Chicagoan&rsquo;s life span; now, he hopes good policy will help to slim the racial gap.</p><p>Choucair pointed to a mammography program in Roseland, a largely black community. &ldquo;We catch breast cancer early, we link them to care early, so they don&rsquo;t have to die much younger than what they&rsquo;re suppose to,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>The greatest contributor to the discrepancy between black and white females was heart disease and cancer. For black males it was heart disease and homicide.</p><p>Hispanic residents live longest, at an average lifespan of just under 85 years. Foreign-born Hispanics live longer than native-born Hispanics by five-and-a-half years.&nbsp;</p><p>LIFE EXPECTANCY AT BIRTH IN 1990</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="400" scrolling="no" src="https://www.google.com/fusiontables/embedviz?q=select+col2%3E%3E1+from+1gUKKGSQ-6aI4MsddfPJ4RNA3M3vqBDF-zGztOd2t&amp;viz=MAP&amp;h=false&amp;lat=41.83100107293211&amp;lng=-87.76920435742187&amp;t=1&amp;z=10&amp;l=col2%3E%3E1&amp;y=8&amp;tmplt=9&amp;hml=KML" width="600"></iframe></p><p>LIFE EXPECTANCY AT BIRTH IN 2010</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="400" scrolling="no" src="https://www.google.com/fusiontables/embedviz?q=select+col2%3E%3E1+from+1gUKKGSQ-6aI4MsddfPJ4RNA3M3vqBDF-zGztOd2t&amp;viz=MAP&amp;h=false&amp;lat=41.81667382886748&amp;lng=-87.721139171875&amp;t=1&amp;z=10&amp;l=col2%3E%3E1&amp;y=5&amp;tmplt=6&amp;hml=KML" width="600"></iframe></p></p> Thu, 12 Jun 2014 12:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagoans-living-longer-ever-racial-gap-remains-110334 Why are we still collecting taxes to prevent white flight in Chicago? http://www.wbez.org/news/why-are-we-still-collecting-taxes-prevent-white-flight-chicago-110325 <p><p>A controversial decades-old program to prevent white flight in Chicago is flush with cash and still collecting taxes from residents of the Southwest and Northwest sides &ndash; despite racial change and housing shifts.&nbsp;</p><p>The programs&rsquo; origins can be traced to the racial panic that gripped many white ethnic communities after voters elected Harold Washington as the city&rsquo;s first black mayor in 1983. Often that fear played out in the housing market with white bungalow belt families worried that blacks would move in and decrease their property values.</p><p>The money collected in the so-called home equity districts was used as a kind of insurance program &ndash; homeowners could file a cash claim if the value dropped upon selling.</p><p>The three little-known taxing districts are the <a href="http://www.nwhomeequity.org/" target="_blank">Northwest Home Equity Assurance Program</a>, the <a href="http://swghe.org/" target="_blank">Southwest Guaranteed Home Equity Program</a> and the <a href="https://www.swhomeequity.com/" target="_blank">Southwest Home Equity Assurance Program</a>.</p><blockquote><p><strong>MAP: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/why-are-we-still-collecting-taxes-prevent-white-flight-chicago-110325#wheredistricts">Where are the home equity districts?</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>In the decades since they were created, most neighborhoods have experienced a racial transition on their own; they are no longer white enclaves. And yet the three home equity programs are still there, still collecting money from thousands of homeowners and not doing much else.</p><p>Collectively, these taxing districts sit on millions of dollars and some activists want that to change.</p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">Save our neighborhood</span></p><p>The 1980s may seem a little late for <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/147.html" target="_blank">panic peddling and blockbusting</a> by unscrupulous realtors. After all, white flight had already happened decades earlier once blacks could legally buy homes wherever they wanted.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/home%20equity3_140611_nm.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px; float: right;" title="A brochure explaining the home equity program on the Northwest Side. (WBEZ/Natalie Moore)" /></p><p>But segregation never really went away.</p><p>&ldquo;You had these bungalows near the stockyards, which to be blunt about it, wasn&rsquo;t exactly desirable real estate. These folks living in those bungalows &ndash; six rooms, a knotty pine basement, one bathroom and was there any racial acceptance? No!&rdquo; said Paul Green, Director of the Institute for Politics at Roosevelt University.</p><p>Historically, African Americans weren&rsquo;t a strong presence in the bungalow belt. And Green said longtime residents didn&rsquo;t exactly roll out the welcome wagon.</p><p>&ldquo;They were all basically white ethnic neighborhoods. The reality was is that the good people living there were afraid that they were going to lose the value of their homes, the only place they knew.&rdquo;</p><p>That fear gave birth to the white <a href="http://www.lib.niu.edu/1988/ii880524.html" target="_blank">Save Our Neighborhood/Save Our City coalition</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;You literally had racial change taking place mile by mile going west on 55th, 63rd, 71st. And those people didn&rsquo;t have anyplace to go,&rdquo; Green said. &ldquo;At that time there was very little reintegration after you had segregation. In other words, you look at the South Side of Chicago, you did not have neighborhoods that went from white to black to mixed.&rdquo;</p><p>The coalition pushed for an equity program to protect them from falling property values. Mayor Harold Washington, who understood white ethnic fear, got behind it. City Council considered an ordinance to implement the program. But black aldermen found the notion that whites needed home equity insurance racist. Washington publicly withdrew his support.</p><blockquote><p><strong>MAP: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/why-are-we-still-collecting-taxes-prevent-white-flight-chicago-110325#racemap">How the racial makeup of Chicago neighborhoods has changed</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>Then in 1988 Southwest Side politician Michael Madigan stepped in. The powerful speaker of the Illinois House helped pass a state law that created three home equity taxing districts &ndash;&nbsp;including two on the southwest side. Another district was created on the northwest side.</p><p>Madigan declined an interview request.</p><p>&ldquo;The premise of the program was I think much more psychological. The psychology was people fear change and when you put into place this institutional mechanism, you create a way of responding to that fear,&rdquo; said Phil Ashton, of the University of Illinois at Chicago, who&rsquo;s studied home equity districts.</p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">How home equity districts work</span></p><p>All homeowners in a designated district pay a small tax, sometimes as little as a dollar and fifty cents a year. That money goes into a fund and homeowners voluntarily enroll in the equity program. If the appraisal is less than the original purchase price when they decide to sell, homeowners receive a cash claim for the difference.</p><p>It&rsquo;s worth noting that Oak Park started a similar program in the late 1970s to manage racial integration. No claims were ever paid out and the program ceased.</p><p>But liberal Oak Park is much different from blue collar Marquette Park, where angry whites jeered at and stoned Martin Luther King in 1966 when he marched for racially open housing laws.</p><p>A horrified 16 year old Jim Capraro witnessed that incident a block away from his home. And he carried it with him as a young man.</p><p>&ldquo;I remember seeing Stokely Carmichael speak in Chicago, a civil rights leader. When he was done speaking, a white kid kind of raised his hand and said &lsquo;what should white kids do to change this?&rsquo; And Stokely said &lsquo;white kids should go back to where they came from and change it there,&rsquo;&rdquo; Capraro said.</p><p>He returned home to the Southwest Side and led the Greater Southwest Community Development Corporation for decades in Chicago Lawn.</p><p>Capraro served on the board of the Southwest Home Equity Assurance Program until 2010. He wasn&rsquo;t active in getting it started but has thought a lot about its effect.</p><p>&ldquo;Does a program like this support racism or thwart racism? Even the people who aren&rsquo;t racist might end up getting hurt because the very act of a large number of people fleeing puts more supply on the housing market than would normally be,&rdquo; Capraro said.</p><p>Whatever the intent, none of the 20-odd neighborhoods in the three home equity districts experienced white flight. Take Chicago Lawn for example. Decades after the ugly backlash against Dr. King, it experienced a smooth racial transition during the 1990s. Today 63rd Street is a bustling strip with mosques, a Harold&rsquo;s fried chicken, and a Belizean restaurant.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/home%20equity2_140611_nm.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px; float: left;" title="A boarded up building in Chicago Lawn. Neighborhood activists say fixing vacancies should be a priority of the home equity districts. (WBEZ/Natalie Moore)" />Meanwhile, farther west, union signs hang on the front porches of blondish brick homes. Here, in the Clearing neighborhood, the area is still mostly white.</p><p>Many other neighborhoods in the home equity districts are largely Latino now.</p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">&#39;Why should that money be sitting there?&#39;</span></p><p>At the Northwest Side Housing Center on west Addison Street, Polish signs hang inside the storefront. The office is crowded with people seeking help to keep their homes. The surrounding bungalow communities of Dunning, Portage Park and Irving Park used to house the largest concentration of Polish families in the city. Families like Ernie Luconsik&rsquo;s, a housing volunteer.</p><p>&ldquo;One of the reasons I moved to my area was because it was integrated. I found it fascinating that people got along and didn&rsquo;t look at people as any kind of color,&rdquo; Luconsik said.</p><p>These days there are nearly as many Latinos and Asians living in the neighborhoods.</p><blockquote><p><strong>CHART: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/why-are-we-still-collecting-taxes-prevent-white-flight-chicago-110325#districtchange">How the racial makeup of the home equity districts has changed</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>&ldquo;As a community-based organization and community residents who are supposed to be benefiting, where is the accountability about the funds and how they are being used?&rdquo; said James Rudyk, executive director of the Northwest Side Housing Center.</p><p>The Northwest Home Equity Assurance Program taxes approximately 48,000 homeowners. Fewer than 10 percent of homeowners in the Northwest Side district are enrolled in the program &ndash;&nbsp;even though all of them pay the tax.</p><p>The fund has $9.6 million.</p><p>&ldquo;Why should that money be sitting there? And if it&rsquo;s something that&rsquo;s not going to produce back, then stop it overall. Because it&rsquo;s something that&rsquo;s not being a benefit for the people or the community,&rdquo; community organizer Vanessa Valentin said. She said families could use that money for something other than claims: home repairs, small loans to prevent foreclosure.</p><p>Rudyk said they tried to organize around this issue several years ago, but got nowhere.</p><p>&ldquo;They have not returned our calls either or our request for a meeting. We were told why are we here, why are we questioning? This isn&rsquo;t our business,&rdquo; Rudyk said.</p><p>I know the feeling.</p><p>When I tried to talk to somebody from the three equity programs, no one agreed to a recorded interview. One of the programs wouldn&rsquo;t even give me their financials until the state attorney general got involved.</p><p>Judging the success or failure of the equity programs is hard. Did the psychology of having insurance keep white families from fleeing?</p><p>We may never know. While blacks never did buy many homes in the bungalow belt, today the northwest and southwest sides are no longer exclusive white enclaves.</p><p>UIC&rsquo;s Ashton said immigrants helped stabilize changing communities where the taxing districts exist.</p><p>&ldquo;Absent Latino homebuyers, white homeowners would&rsquo;ve struggled to find replacements for themselves when they were trying to move out through course of the 1990s. And they didn&rsquo;t move out because, I don&rsquo;t think, they encountered more minorities moving in,&rdquo; Ashton said. &ldquo;They moved out because they were getting old and their home was their major source of wealth and they wanted to retire or they were passing away and the family wanted to resolve the estate by selling the home.&rdquo;</p><p>Now those same immigrant families are facing a fresh set of challenges related to the housing downturn.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Residents want money invested in neighborhoods</span></p><p>Veronica Villasenor is a counselor for the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, which serves a low-income and working class Latino area.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m a Hispanic, I&rsquo;m a Latina. I know how my parents think. I know how my parents were victims of getting a mortgage that wasn&rsquo;t sustainable,&rdquo; Villasenor said. &ldquo;Just in general the community is not educated. I think the state should assign money to develop education programs for these families &ndash; financial literacy, for mortgages.</p><p>Where would that money come from? Villasenor has her eye on the $1 million cash reserve in the Southwest Home Equity Assurance Program.</p><p>That&rsquo;s the board Capraro used to sit on the board of that program. He said he can count the number of claims that went out. Usually because of an inaccurate appraisal, not because of a drop in home values.</p><p>Realizing the program was flush with cash, Capraro says the board took action.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;We appealed to the legislature and actually got permission to do this: we were lending people money at interest rates that were much less expensive than a normal home improvement loan or home equity line of credit,&rdquo; Capraro said.</p><p>It was a popular program until the housing market crashed. Suddenly, a roof repair wasn&rsquo;t as important as hanging on to one&rsquo;s home.</p><p>Separately, the Southwest Guaranteed Home Equity Program has more than $53 thousand dollars in the bank. Last year it collected $185,000 but it hasn&rsquo;t had any recent payouts.</p><p>The Northwest Home Equity Assurance Program last paid out a claim more than 15 years ago.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Let them explain to community residents what&rsquo;s being done with these funds and how we can work together it&rsquo;s not work against each other it&rsquo;s work together for the benefit of the community,&rdquo; Valentin said.</p><p>In 2011, the <em><a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/watchdogs/8177235-452/taxpayer-money-set-aside-to-curb-white-flight-helped-some-flee-city.html#.U5XsW1fvn_Y" target="_blank">Chicago Sun-Times</a></em> investigated how families were cashing out of the program due to the housing economic slump, which is not what the taxing districts were designed for.</p><p>Put aside, for a moment, the reason these three taxing districts exist and focus just on the dollars.</p><p>Any community area would envy a pot of money that could potentially be reinvested back in the neighborhood &ndash;&nbsp;no matter what race benefits.</p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">Map: Where are the home equity districts?<a name="wheredistricts"></a></span></p><p><span style="font-size:14px;">(click on the districts for financial info)</span></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="300" scrolling="no" src="https://www.google.com/fusiontables/embedviz?q=select+col2%3E%3E0+from+1OVxIg4ZMZyPSe4FvVqVzWQasXgkF9WbsSNyMnsF4&amp;viz=MAP&amp;h=false&amp;lat=41.87606330248448&amp;lng=-87.73913351843261&amp;t=1&amp;z=10&amp;l=col2%3E%3E0&amp;y=2&amp;tmplt=2&amp;hml=KML" width="620"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">Chart: How the racial makeup of home equity districts has changed<a name="districtchange"></a></span></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/district%20change%20chart.PNG" style="height: 297px; width: 620px;" title="(WBEZ/Chris Hagan)" /></div><p>Chicago&#39;s three home equity districts cover 18 community areas. Those neighborhoods saw major demographic shifts from 1990 to 2010. For example, in Archer Heights White residents made up 90 percent of the population in 1990 but only 21 in 2010, a drop of 69 percentage points. In the same time Latino residents increased from 9 to 76 percent.</p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">Map: How the racial makeup of Chicago has changed<a name="racemap"></a></span></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/maps.PNG" style="height: 381px; width: 620px;" title="Dot density map showing census numbers. (WBEZ/Chris Hagan)" /></div><blockquote><div>&nbsp;</div></blockquote><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a>&nbsp;</em><em>Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em></p></p> Wed, 11 Jun 2014 14:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/why-are-we-still-collecting-taxes-prevent-white-flight-chicago-110325 Black firefighter follows in the footsteps of his father http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/black-firefighter-follows-footsteps-his-father-110019 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/140411 StoryCorps DeKalb Wolcotts (1).JPG" alt="" /><p><p><em>Dekalb Walcott III and Dekalb Walcott Jr. (Photo courtesy of StoryCorps)</em></p><p>For more than three decades Dekalb Walcott Jr was one of the few African Americans in the Chicago Fire Department.</p><p>His son, Dekalb Walcott III, always dreamed of following in his footsteps.</p><p>&quot;A lot of young black people didn&rsquo;t really get the pleasure of growing up with a father,&quot; Dekalb Walcott III said. &quot;You know, I&rsquo;m from Chicago where we had the Bulls back in the &rsquo;90s and Michael Jordan was famous.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;Everybody wanted to be like Mike, but for me, myself, I wanted Dekalb Walcott Jr. &mdash; that was my Michael Jordan.&rdquo;</p><p>To hear more about their family history and the importance of father figures in the black community, click on the audio above.</p><p><em>Meredith Zielke is a WBEZ producer.&nbsp;</em></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> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 10:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/black-firefighter-follows-footsteps-his-father-110019 I trust your truth http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-10/i-trust-your-truth-108972 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/4283808167_d6b4d204a7_z.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="(Flickr/Bart Heird)" /></div></div><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid--eb8a0a8-dc18-9a48-37f2-8589b298c2ca">&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not moving this bus until you stop playing that music,&quot; the bus driver said to a young Hispanic man last Saturday night. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid--eb8a0a8-dc18-9a48-37f2-8589b298c2ca">I was riding the #50 Damen bus up to a performance at Martyrs. In the city, you are used to someone&rsquo;s cell phone speakers becoming a post-Millennium boom box. Loud music on public transportation is a familiar annoyance, one that I have gotten used to having grown up here. At first, you are startled by the intrusion, but quickly you forget it is even there. Still, it does not change the fact that it is an unnecessary nuisance akin to eating on public transportation. To live in a city is to assault the senses. If it is not the noise, it is the sights. If it is not the sights, it is the smells. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid--eb8a0a8-dc18-9a48-37f2-8589b298c2ca">&quot;I&rsquo;m so sick of punks like </span>you playing <em>that</em> music,&rdquo; the bus driver said. By that point, he had stalled the bus and stepped out of his driving area.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid--eb8a0a8-dc18-9a48-37f2-8589b298c2ca">But the Hispanic man was not listening to music on his cell phone. He was texting or browsing or something else. He was looking down, going about his evening. He was like any other passenger on the bus, minding his own business. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid--eb8a0a8-dc18-9a48-37f2-8589b298c2ca">No, the music came from two young white men. They were holding the phone up, looking at videos while their music blared, oblivious too of their surroundings. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid--eb8a0a8-dc18-9a48-37f2-8589b298c2ca">And as the bus driver left his seat and faced the passengers, the two men quietly slipped their phones away and said nothing. It was a sly move and I do not begrudge them for doing so. If someone complains about the noise, the courteous thing to do is to put your phone away. If a situation escalates, it makes sense to defuse the tension. And when faced with potential confrontation, I understand their lack of nerve to name themselves as the culprit. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid--eb8a0a8-dc18-9a48-37f2-8589b298c2ca">But should they have stepped in? Would you? </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid--eb8a0a8-dc18-9a48-37f2-8589b298c2ca">The driver began to yell at the Hispanic man first accused, who said, &ldquo;Yo man, that wasn&rsquo;t me.&rdquo; </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid--eb8a0a8-dc18-9a48-37f2-8589b298c2ca">And I chimed in. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>&ldquo;It wasn&rsquo;t. It was them,&rdquo; I pointed to the two men. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid--eb8a0a8-dc18-9a48-37f2-8589b298c2ca">And another black woman nodded her head and said, &ldquo;Yep,&rdquo; but the bus driver seemingly did not care.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid--eb8a0a8-dc18-9a48-37f2-8589b298c2ca">He looked back at the Hispanic man, glanced quickly at the two men and got back into his seat, as if nothing happened at all, as if he could not be bothered to know the truth. Or maybe he understood the truth, but could not be bothered to stomach an alternative to what he normally faces on the bus. The next time, he probably thought, the next time I will be right because I am always right, because this is how I see the world.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid--eb8a0a8-dc18-9a48-37f2-8589b298c2ca">Situations like this are difficult to parse. Did I actually see what I thought I just saw? Did I insert race into a situation that was not about race? My gut says no. My gut says a young man was accused of being the source of a public noise nuisance on the bus because he was a man of color.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid--eb8a0a8-dc18-9a48-37f2-8589b298c2ca">I first posted about this incident <a href="http://britticisms.tumblr.com/post/64600329328/im-not-moving-this-bus-until-you-stop-playing#captiontop" target="_blank">on my blog</a> and while most people were upset, one Tumblr user wrote, &ldquo;It was probably just a mistake and since the music had stopped he went back to drive the bus. I don&rsquo;t think it had anything to do with race.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid--eb8a0a8-dc18-9a48-37f2-8589b298c2ca">He was not a witness to what I saw, so his opinion is only based on what I said. But also, I was not inside the head of the bus driver. I do not know if he accused the man because he made an assumption based on the first cell phone he saw or the first man of color he saw.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid--eb8a0a8-dc18-9a48-37f2-8589b298c2ca">I have told friends and acquaintances about numerous racially-charged incidents in my own life. I&rsquo;ve told them about the mother forcing her two children out of the pool, the only other two children there, when my sister and I jumped in as little girls. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t want you in there now,&rdquo; she said. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span>Was I jumping to conclusions? Was my own mother as she later recalled what happened? I&rsquo;ve talked about being called the n-word in Wicker Park as recently as 2009. I&rsquo;ve talked about being called &ldquo;hostile&rdquo; and &ldquo;angry&rdquo; for asking questions at jobs, even though other people who have actually yelled to others in the same setting were not accused of anything.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid--eb8a0a8-dc18-9a48-37f2-8589b298c2ca">Most people understand where I am coming from and perhaps can offer their own stories as well. But I have also been accused of causing trouble. I have been accused of seeing what is not there. It does not matter that these incidents have occurred only a handful of times, that I don&rsquo;t spend my life &ldquo;looking for racism&rdquo; in every interaction. It is difficult for others, particularly those with privilege, to see wrongs when they have occurred. If it does not affect them, how can it be real? If they do not see it every day, does it even happen at all?</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid--eb8a0a8-dc18-9a48-37f2-8589b298c2ca">I can speak to my own experiences as a woman. I can speak to my experiences as a black American. But there are lives I will never truly know or understand. There are experiences that I will never face because of my age or my sexuality or my class. But the privilege I have does not mean that I can not try to empathize. It does not mean that I can not listen to the things people tell me and observe the world around me and know that some things are more real than my scope of understanding. It does not mean that I can not trust others&#39; feelings or trust their truth. That is the least that I can do.&nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><em>Britt Julious 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, 21 Oct 2013 13:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-10/i-trust-your-truth-108972 On playground equity, Park District comes up short http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/playground-equity-park-district-comes-short-108668 <p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/JaemeyBush1.JPG" style="height: 300px; width: 200px; margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: right; float: right;" title="Jaemey Bush and her girl play in Piotrowski Park, 4247 W. 31st St. The playground lost most of its swings in a 2010 renovation, a project that has Jaemey wondering what determines the location and quality of Chicago Park District playgrounds. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />Jaemey Bush was excited when the bulldozers rumbled in to renovate the playground at Piotrowski Park, one of the few green spaces in Little Village, a densely populated Latino enclave of Chicago. The 2010 project replaced decaying wood chips with a poured-rubber surface accessible to wheelchairs. Crews tore out all the old play equipment and installed climbing ropes, slides, stepping stools and catwalks. Everything was brand new.</p><p>But something bothered Jaemey, a stay-at-home mom in the neighborhood. &ldquo;When they finally unveiled the playground, it was about a quarter the size of the old one,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;Before the remodeling, we had 16 swings at least. Now there are just 6. Sometimes we have to wait in line for them.&rdquo;</p><p>Jaemey noticed bigger playgrounds in some wealthier neighborhoods. So she asked Curious City:</p><p><em>What factors determine the location and quality of Chicago Park District playgrounds?</em></p><p>As Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s administration tells it, the main factors are equity and community need. Park District officials, who report to a CEO and board of commissioners appointed by the mayor, point out that they manage 525 playgrounds &mdash; a big number even for a population the size of Chicago&rsquo;s.</p><p>They say more than 90 percent of Chicago children live within a half mile (10-minute walk) of at least one of these sites. They point to an Emanuel administration plan to renovate 300 of those playgrounds within five years. And they say they&rsquo;re doing their best to acquire land for new parks and playgrounds in the neighborhoods that need them the most.</p><p>To determine needs for amenities such as playgrounds, the Park District says it has beefed up its planning staff and embraced state-of-the-art data analysis. Gia Biagi, chief of staff for Park District CEO Michael Kelly, says those efforts include research projects with outside organizations including Northwestern University.</p><p>&ldquo;We said, &lsquo;Here&rsquo;s our data. Help comb through it. Are we hitting the markets that we want to hit? Are we serving people in the way that they want to be served?&rsquo; &rdquo; Biagi says. &ldquo;So we&rsquo;re doing a lot of the business-intelligence work that we see corporations do. We&rsquo;re trying to bring it to a Park District, which is pretty unusual.&rdquo;</p><p>Park District officials say they examine data at every level, from the entire city to block-by-block numbers. Biagi says her team considers population characteristics including race, ethnicity and income. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re good planners,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;So we look at everything and we look to serve communities that need us the most.&rdquo;</p><p>But looking isn&rsquo;t the same as doing. Sparked by Jaemey&rsquo;s question, a Curious City investigation shows that not all kids have easy access to quality playgrounds. Worst off are children of color.</p><p><strong>Kids but no monkey bars</strong></p><p>Chicago has playgrounds in its poorest neighborhoods, as we confirmed by mapping the city&rsquo;s playground locations with its 809 census tracts and then shading those tracts according to their child poverty (see Map 1).</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="400" scrolling="no" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/PARKS/Poverty.html" width="620"></iframe></p><p><strong>Map 1: Playground locations and child poverty (<a href="#DataNotes">notes</a>)</strong></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-bb86-e204-f47c067a5664"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">% of kids in poverty</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-bb86-e204-f47c067a5664"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(244, 204, 204); background-color: rgb(234, 209, 220); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;0.0&ndash;4.9</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-bb86-e204-f47c067a5664"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(234, 153, 153); background-color: rgb(213, 166, 189); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;5.0&ndash;19.9</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-bb86-e204-f47c067a5664"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(224, 102, 102); background-color: rgb(194, 123, 160); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;20.0&ndash;39.0</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-bb86-e204-f47c067a5664"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(204, 0, 0); background-color: rgb(166, 77, 121); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;40.0&ndash;59.9</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-bb86-e204-f47c067a5664"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(153, 0, 0); background-color: rgb(116, 27, 71); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;60.0&ndash;100</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-bb86-e204-f47c067a5664"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 255); background-color: rgb(0, 0, 255); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;No children</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-bb86-e204-f47c067a5664"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Playground surface</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-bb86-e204-f47c067a5664"><span style="font-size: 19px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(108, 125, 210); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">●</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Wood Chips</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-bb86-e204-f47c067a5664"><span style="font-size: 19px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(138, 240, 138); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">●</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Rubber </span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><hr /><p dir="ltr">But our investigation went further. With help from demographer Rob Paral, we analyzed the playground locations in relation to the latest racial and ethnic data for each of the city&rsquo;s 46,000 census blocks.</p><p dir="ltr">We found something interesting. Chicago&rsquo;s Latino children are almost 35 percent more likely than the city&rsquo;s white kids to live more than a half mile from a Park District playground (see Chart 1). More than 23,000 Latino kids live at least 10 minutes, on foot, from the nearest playground.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="https://docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/spreadsheet/oimg?key=0AluraWM750W7dHppQlVGTmhMTFlEVGljWTY0dk1kNmc&amp;oid=11&amp;zx=finl7t3gdy3c" style="width: 600px; height: 371px;" /></p><p>Jaemey&rsquo;s neighborhood, Little Village, is not alone among Latino areas with a dearth of Park District playgrounds. A map that shows the playground locations and the census tracts, shaded this time by child density (see Map 2), reveals a shortage in Brighton Park, Gage Park and Chicago Lawn &mdash; a Southwest Side swath with lots of children, most with Mexican heritage.</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="400" scrolling="no" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/PARKS/Kids.html" width="620"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><strong>Map 2: Playground locations and child density (<a href="#DataNotes">notes</a>)</strong></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-eb77-62a0-b8c3aadc3ee2"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Child population</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-eb77-62a0-b8c3aadc3ee2"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(255, 229, 153); background-color: rgb(255, 229, 153); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;0&ndash;299</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-eb77-62a0-b8c3aadc3ee2"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(255, 217, 102); background-color: rgb(255, 217, 102); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;300&ndash;599</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-eb77-62a0-b8c3aadc3ee2"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(241, 194, 50); background-color: rgb(241, 194, 50); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;600&ndash;999</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-eb77-62a0-b8c3aadc3ee2"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(191, 144, 0); background-color: rgb(191, 144, 0); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;1,000&ndash;1,499</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-eb77-62a0-b8c3aadc3ee2"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(127, 96, 0); background-color: rgb(127, 96, 0); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&nbsp;1,500 or more</span></span></p><br /><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-eb77-62a0-b8c3aadc3ee2"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Playground surface</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1427-eb77-62a0-b8c3aadc3ee2"><span style="font-size: 19px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(108, 125, 210); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">●</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Wood Chips</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-size: 19px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(138, 240, 138); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">●</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Rubber</span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><hr /><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It makes me really sad that these kids don&rsquo;t have a chance to play on a playground,&rdquo; Jaemey says. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s such an important part of being a kid and growing up and being healthy. We also have a lot of gang violence and kids getting into trouble. I feel like more playgrounds could contribute to solving some of those problems.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The Park District, presented with our data and findings, sent a statement that describes the city&rsquo;s playgrounds as &ldquo;well distributed in existing parks.&rdquo; Officials say they&rsquo;re also planning a new playground site in a 20-acre former industrial area between Little Village and the Cook County Jail.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We take seriously issues of equity and constantly examine the distribution of, and demand for, all of our resources, whether camps and programs or events and arts or natural resources and capital projects,&rdquo; the Park District statement says. &ldquo;As it should be in any major city and within any park system worth its salt, our work on equity, proximity, and improving the quality of life for all Chicagoans is deliberative and evolving.&rdquo;</p><p>A complication for many of Chicago&rsquo;s Latino neighborhoods is their relative lack of open space. They tend to be densely populated, so it&rsquo;s more expensive to clear space for a playground. Biagi, the Park District chief of staff, says Brighton Park just doesn&rsquo;t have many vacant lots.</p><p>The Park District also avoids putting parks on less than two acres because, Biagi says, the small scale would make them more expensive for maintenance crews to keep up.</p><p><strong>Not all jungle gyms are equal</strong></p><p>Turning to playground quality &mdash; the other part of Jaemey&rsquo;s question &mdash; we found a lot of evidence that Chicago&rsquo;s children of color are not getting their share.</p><p>First we looked at playground surfaces &mdash; the ground material that provides a cushion when kids fall from the equipment. The surface of almost every Park District playground once consisted of wood chips.</p><p>In 2000, however, the Park District started replacing wood chips with poured rubber, a smoother surface that is easier for disabled kids to navigate. Rubber can also be safer because, unlike wood chips, it doesn&rsquo;t require refilling or raking. And a rubber surface signals that the Park District has recently replaced the playground&rsquo;s equipment.</p><p>A big downside to playgrounds with the poured-rubber surfaces, officials say, is that they cost roughly five times more than wood-chip playgrounds with similar play equipment.</p><p>A Curious City spatial analysis using the census data shows that 53 percent of the city&rsquo;s 421,000&nbsp;Latino, African American and Asian kids live within a half mile of a rubber-surfaced Park District playground (see Chart 2). White children have a 24 percent greater likelihood than those kids of color to live within that distance of a rubber-surfaced playground.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="https://docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/spreadsheet/oimg?key=0AluraWM750W7dHppQlVGTmhMTFlEVGljWTY0dk1kNmc&amp;oid=10&amp;zx=yfcjv5ithid" style="width: 600px; height: 371px; margin: 5px;" /></p><p>Another measure of a playground&rsquo;s quality is its safety.</p><p>&ldquo;Kids are hurt on playgrounds by falling, but the way kids actually die on playgrounds is, somehow, a child is strangled or their airway gets blocked,&rdquo; says Amy Hill, who coordinates an injury-prevention center for the Ann &amp; Robert H. Lurie Children&rsquo;s Hospital of Chicago. &ldquo;Clothing gets entangled onto a bolt or something protruding somewhere, and the other way that their airway gets blocked is something called a head entrapment, which is any space that&rsquo;s bound on all four sides that&rsquo;s larger than 3&frac12; inches and less than 9 inches. And so we test all the openings for head entrapments.&rdquo;</p><p>Hill&rsquo;s center conducts a 21-point inspection of Park District playgrounds to find hazards ranging from those entrapment spaces to peeling paint and missing guardrails. Based on the inspections, the center assigns each playground a safety score. The latest inspection round, held last year, covered about 490 playgrounds. Of those, the 40 with the lowest safety scores were all south of Roosevelt Road (see Map 3).<a name="Map3"></a></p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="400" scrolling="no" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/PARKS/LowScoring.html" width="620"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><strong>Map 3: This year&rsquo;s playground renovations (<a href="#DataNotes">notes</a>)</strong></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-728d4f5c-1429-fc5a-732c-6f227eed17f1"><span style="font-size: 19px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(138, 240, 138); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">●</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> Renovated after receiving one of the lowest 40 safety scores.</span></span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-size: 19px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(108, 125, 210); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">● </span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Renovated after </span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">not</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> receiving one of the lowest 40 safety scores.</span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-size: 19px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(210, 40, 57); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">●</span><span style="font-size: 19px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(108, 125, 210); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Not </span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">renovated after receiving one of the lowest 40 safety scores.</span></p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><hr /><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;That shows a neglect of playgrounds on the South Side,&rdquo; Jaemey says.</p><p dir="ltr">The Park District did not answer our questions about what led to that disparity. A spokeswoman for Kelly, the Park District chief, instead sent a statement criticizing the whole idea of assessing a playground&rsquo;s safety based on a single visit. &ldquo;The static-in-time inspection does not account for the routine site maintenance and work orders for repairs,&rdquo; the statement said.</p><p dir="ltr">Kelly&rsquo;s spokeswoman also touted Mayor Emanuel&rsquo;s renovation program, dubbed Chicago Plays. Expected to cost $38 million over the next five years, the program aims to replace the play equipment at 300 sites and departs from the policy of installing the expensive poured rubber as part of every Park District renovation. Many of these playgrounds will have to stick with wood chips.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We have reduced a 20-year replacement cycle to 5 years by implementing a practical, cost-effective citywide construction program,&rdquo; the Park District statement said. &ldquo;We changed our strategy to do more with fewer resources, and reach more Chicagoans in the process.&rdquo;</p><p>Under the Chicago Plays banner, the Park District added 50 renovations to a list of 11 playgrounds otherwise slated for rehabilitation this year. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not a paint job, it&rsquo;s a total redo of equipment,&rdquo; Emanuel said at a West Side playground this July. &ldquo;No other city is doing this.&rdquo;</p><p>But the renovation push, despite its scale, is not having a big impact in the South Side neighborhoods with those 40 low-scoring playgrounds. Just 8 of them are getting renovated this year (see <a href="#Map3">Map 3</a>).</p><p>&ldquo;The Park District is obviously not focusing on the worst playgrounds,&rdquo; Jaemey says. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s no justice in that.&rdquo;</p><p>At some of the playgrounds panned by the hospital but overlooked for renovation this year, officials have let the play equipment deteriorate. This week at Murray Park, 1743 W. 73rd St., some of the wooden rungs on the sole climbing structure were rotting. Others were loose or missing.</p><p>At another low-scoring South Side playground, the Park District has removed all the equipment except two swing sets, both decades-old. Drexel Playlot Park, 6931 S. Damen Ave., now looks like a vacant lot.</p><p><strong>Proving &lsquo;ownership&rsquo;</strong></p><p>If equity and safety don&rsquo;t solely determine the location and quality of Park District playgrounds, what other factors are in play?</p><p>One is funding. The Park District says it&rsquo;s spending about $125,000 per renovation in the Chicago Plays program. That&rsquo;s enough to replace all the equipment at the 300 playgrounds. &ldquo;It will be equitable across the city,&rdquo; says Rob Rejman, the district&rsquo;s planning and construction director.</p><p>But the Park District expects to attract a lot more funding for playground renovations during the program&rsquo;s five years, as it has in the past. Since 2007, Park District coffers have accounted for just 40 percent of playground funding, officials say. Another 35 percent has come from city sources ranging from tax increment-financing, to money leftover from last year&rsquo;s NATO summit, to a &ldquo;menu&rdquo; program in which each alderman controls funds for public-works projects in the ward.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MurrayPark.JPG" style="float: right; margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 412px; width: 275px;" title="At Chicago’s Murray Park, 1743 W. 73rd St., some rungs of the sole climbing structure are rotting or loose. Others are missing. Murray is among dozens of South Side playgrounds the Park District did not renovate this year despite low marks from independent safety inspectors. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />Another 18 percent of playground money has come from state of Illinois grants, the Park District says. The remaining 7 percent has come from private donors such as foundations, chambers of commerce and neighborhood groups.</p><p>&ldquo;We always welcome partnerships,&rdquo; Rejman says. &ldquo;The outside funding, though, comes where it comes. We don&rsquo;t have control over it.&rdquo;</p><p>That means it comes unevenly across the city. The aldermanic menu money for playgrounds, for example, tends to flow to the North Side, the Chicago Tribune has&nbsp;<a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-05-16/news/ct-met-playground-disparity-0517--20100516_1_playgrounds-south-side-aldermen-renovations" target="_blank">reported</a>.</p><p>The funding imbalance played a role at the Piotrowski playground, where Jaemey takes her kids. Renovating that 1993 facility cost $314,000 but, according to the Park District, much of that sum went into a poured-rubber surface instead of play equipment. The Park District didn&rsquo;t manage to pin down any outside funding, a source involved with the project adds. Ald. Ricardo Muñoz (22nd) confirms he didn&rsquo;t channel menu money to the project. So, as Jaemey observed, the renovation actually scaled the playground down.</p><p>Besides uneven funding, another factor helps determine playground locations and quality. &ldquo;You don&rsquo;t want to just helicopter in a playground,&rdquo; says Maria Dmyterko Stone, a program director of Friends of the Parks, a group that&rsquo;s working with the Park District on the Chicago Plays program. &ldquo;You want the community to want it, need it, desire it, claim it as theirs.&rdquo;</p><p>Stone says the community engagement helps protect playgrounds from litter bugs and vandals. The community also informs the Park District when a piece of play equipment breaks, she adds. Volunteers will even help rake wood chips to cover &ldquo;fall zones&rdquo; where the ground is bare.</p><p>Community members with a stake in a playground will also call police to sweep away people who don&rsquo;t belong there. &ldquo;It could be taken over by gangs,&rdquo; Stone says. &ldquo;It could be drug sales. People could be drinking in the park. And if you put a playground in there and the community hasn&rsquo;t taken ownership of it, you&rsquo;re not going to have kids playing there.&rdquo;</p><p>To demonstrate that &ldquo;ownership,&rdquo; the Chicago Plays program requires a community group &mdash; such as a park&rsquo;s advisory council or a block club &mdash; to apply for each renovation. The application includes a 50-signature petition, a letter of support from the local alderman, a community impact statement and a report on the playground&rsquo;s current condition. The application form also encourages visual evidence such as photos or video.</p><p>But many communities where high-quality playgrounds could make the greatest difference for kids also lack park advisory councils. Park District records show an advisory council at only a third of city parks. Without one, it&rsquo;s harder to apply for the renovation and raise funds to pay for a poured-rubber surface or extra equipment.</p><p>Chicago Plays thus embodies an old Chicago logic of investing in public infrastructure, first, where it has the greatest chance of &ldquo;success&rdquo; &mdash; and pushing areas that lack resources and clout to the back of the line. In this sense, Mayor Emanuel&rsquo;s playground renovations look something like his <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/divvy-blues-bike-share-program-leaves-some-behind-107893" target="_blank">bike sharing</a> docks and planned <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/bus-rapid-transit-%E2%80%98maximize-potential%E2%80%99-ashland-avenue-106738" target="_blank">bus rapid transit</a> routes.</p><p><a name="DataNotes"></a></p><p><a name="DataNotes"></a>Jaemey, our curious citizen, says it&rsquo;s not fair. &ldquo;Too many places where kids really need good playgrounds are not getting them,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;They keep getting left behind.&rdquo;</p><p><em><b>CONTRIBUTORS:&nbsp;</b>Reporting and data analysis by <a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a>. Geospatial analysis by <a href="http://www.robparal.com/" target="_blank">Rob Paral</a>. Maps, editing and additional reporting by <a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/sallee-0" target="_blank">Shawn Allee</a>. Follow Mitchell, WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter, on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>. </em></p><p><em><b>SOURCES:</b> Playground locations from the Chicago Park District and the Injury Prevention and Research Center of Ann &amp; Robert H. Lurie Children&rsquo;s Hospital of Chicago. Playground surfaces from IPRC, Friends of the Parks and Google Maps. Playground safety scores from IPRC. Age, race and ethnicity data from the 2010 Census of the U.S. Census Bureau. Poverty data from the bureau&rsquo;s 2007-2011 American Community Survey. </em></p><p><em><b>NOTES:</b> The terms &ldquo;children&rdquo; and &ldquo;kids&rdquo; refer to Chicago residents, ages 0-14. The racial and ethnic categories, as described by the Census Bureau, are &ldquo;One Race / Asian,&rdquo; &ldquo;One Race / Black or African American,&rdquo; &ldquo;Hispanic or Latino,&rdquo; &ldquo;Not Hispanic or Latino / White alone.&rdquo; An entire block is considered within a half mile of a playground if any portion of that block is within a half mile. The poverty data are subject to sampling variability that can lead to unexpected results for individual census tracts. Geospatial coding may plot playgrounds slightly off their exact locations; if you notice a significant error, please write Curious City Editor <a href="mailto:sallee@wbez.org">Shawn Allee</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 12 Sep 2013 15:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/playground-equity-park-district-comes-short-108668 Local Indian Catholics allege discrimination within their own church http://www.wbez.org/local-indian-catholics-allege-discrimination-within-their-own-church-108652 <p><p>A small group of Indian Catholics is petitioning the Vatican to stop what they claim are discriminatory practices in their U.S. churches. The Knanaya, a small sect estimated at 400,000 worldwide, have concentrated in the Chicago area over the last five decades. Now a rift over whether they should continue their ancient observance of endogamy, where members only marry within their ethnic group, has spilled into public view.</p><p>&ldquo;The Knanaya are essentially a 1700-year old Christian caste,&rdquo; explained Ligy Pullappally, an attorney and Knanite who lives in suburban Chicago. &ldquo;You cannot marry into a Knanaya community and become a Knanaya, you cannot convert to it, because it is a biological-based tradition.&rdquo;</p><p>Pullappally is one of a small, but growing, group of American Knanites who have filed a canonical lawsuit within the Catholic Church&rsquo;s legal system. She and the others have married outside the Knanaya church, an act that they claim has led to discriminatory treatment. In Pullappally&rsquo;s case, her husband is Protestant, and so she says her family is being denied certain rights.</p><p>&ldquo;[T]he right to conduct your wedding at that church, the right to baptize your child at that church,&rdquo; said Pullappally.</p><p>A fellow complainant, Lukose Paret, produced several letters he attempted to send to a priest at one of the two Chicago-area churches, along with receipts showing they were declined and sent back unopened. He and others say they are barred from joining church committees, their homes are shunned during Christmas caroling events, and their children are not welcome to participate in youth activities.</p><p>&ldquo;Basically the Knanaya church is walking a tightrope between maintenance of these age-old endogamous traditions, and knowledge that America is a new land where inclusivity is the rule,&rdquo; said Pullappally.</p><p>The disagreement within the church spilled onto the streets in March, however, when several hundred Knanaya rallied outside their bishop&rsquo;s house in Elmhurst. The protest was in response to a letter issued by Bishop Jacob Angadiath, who oversees the St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago. Angadiath had ordered churches in the diocese to be more inclusive of mixed-Knanaya families, or families where only one spouse is a full-blooded Knanaya. Angadiath did not respond to multiple requests for interview.</p><p>&ldquo;It is totally against our principle,&rdquo; said Tomy Myalkarapuram, president of the Knanaya Catholic Congress of North America, a laypeople organization that claims 20,000 members. &ldquo;We have every right to remain as (an) ethnic group and as (an) endogamous group,&rdquo; he added.</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/Screen%20Shot%202013-09-11%20at%209.26.42%20AM.png" style="height: 224px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Sacred Heart Knanaya Catholic Parish in Maywood, IL, is one of two Knanaya churches in the greater Chicago area. The Knanaya Catholic church in the U.S. has recently reached new levels of conflict over whether to preserve their ancient tradition of endogamy." /></div><p>Myalkarapuram said endogamy is the essence of the Knanaya community, and that the larger Catholic Church should not ask the Knanaya to sacrifice a defining characteristic of their identity. In fact, since the Knanaya church was folded into the Catholic Church several centuries ago, the concept of endogamy has never sat well with Rome.</p><p>&ldquo;It sounds as if you are excluding people from the church if you have your own separate endogamous church,&rdquo; said Richard Swiderski, an anthropologist who studied Knanaya endogamy in India.</p><p>Swiderski said the Catholic Church held its nose and allowed the Knanaya in India to continue the practice, but that it did not intend for the tradition to be carried over to other countries. However, he noted that any forced change would run afoul of long-held beliefs.</p><p>&ldquo;The practice of endogamy is this very idea that (the Knanaya) represent the pure doctrine, (that) they are hereditary representatives of the pure doctrine,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;The only way they could maintain that was to continue marrying only among themselves.&rdquo;</p><p>Swiderski said the Knanaya believe they descended from Middle Easterners who settled in southern India in 345 AD., making them racially distinct from other Indians. He said ever since then, they have tried to preserve their spiritual distinction, a belief that they represent a version of Christianity untainted by outside cultures, through endogamy.</p><p>The controversy may ultimately be resolved by people within the community: a younger generation of Knanites who debate whether endogamy makes sense in an American context.</p><p>In the meantime, Pullappally says the church has already lost one of its youngest members -- her son. Days before he was baptized, she explained her decision not to have it done in a Knanaya church.</p><p>&ldquo;He&rsquo;s going to be baptized in a Roman Catholic Church, but not the Knanaya church,&rdquo; said Pullappally.&nbsp; &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t want the occasion of something joyful, like a baptism, to be marred by hostility.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 11 Sep 2013 09:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/local-indian-catholics-allege-discrimination-within-their-own-church-108652 Push for teacher quality in Illinois takes toll on minority candidates http://www.wbez.org/news/push-teacher-quality-illinois-takes-toll-minority-candidates-108601 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Teacher diversity_130904_oy.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Across the nation, states are considering ways to make teaching a more selective profession. The push for &ldquo;higher aptitude&rdquo; teachers has often come from the nation&rsquo;s top education officials. &ldquo;In Finland it&rsquo;s the top ten percent of college grads (who) are going into education,&rdquo; U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4ykyW4F9q8">said to an audience of educators in Massachusetts</a> last year. &ldquo;Ninety percent don&rsquo;t have that opportunity.&rdquo;</p><p>Education leaders in Illinois have taken up that call, but the way they&rsquo;ve done it has raised some red flags. That&rsquo;s because tougher standards are coming at a cost: fewer minorities are on track to become teachers. The data have state officials talking about whether they should do things differently.</p><p>The issue became a key point of discussion at last month&rsquo;s regular meeting of the Illinois State Board of Education. Though it wasn&rsquo;t on the board&rsquo;s agenda, a handful of outsiders showed up to bring it to the board&rsquo;s attention during the public comment portion of the meeting. Linda Wegner, a teacher in Rochelle, IL, spoke on behalf of the <a href="http://www.ieanea.org/">Illinois Education Association</a>. &ldquo;I want to encourage my minority students to be teachers. I try to, I always have,&rdquo; she told</p><p>Wegner warned the board that unless it intervenes, Illinois&rsquo; teaching force will become whiter. That&rsquo;s because the number of African Americans and Latinos in teaching schools is way down. She and many others attributed this to a change in the <a href="http://www.il.nesinc.com/">Test of Academic Proficiency</a>, or TAP, an admissions test for colleges of education. Anyone who wants to be a teacher in Illinois must pass the TAP.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re seeing a diminution in the number of minority candidates who are passing this exam, so we&rsquo;re worried about it,&rdquo; said Gery Chico, chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education. Chico told Wegner he is seriously alarmed about data that show that fewer African Americans and Hispanics are passing the TAP. He said the board had feared this might happen when it raised standards to pass the TAP in 2010.</p><p>That year, the board doubled the scores needed to pass each section of the TAP, and also <a href="http://www.isbe.net/licensure/pdf/icts_test.pdf">limited students to five tries</a>. &ldquo;It was really part and parcel of that overall movement to increase the rigor of various standards that affect the entire profession,&rdquo; Chico explained.</p><p>Last year, the board also began allowing teacher candidates to <a href="http://www.isbe.net/licensure/pdf/act-sat-grade-use-notice0113.pdf">submit test scores on other standardized assessments in lieu of the TAP</a>. A score of at least 22 on the ACT or 1030 on the SAT would qualify. However, the state has not tracked whether this has allowed more candidates of color into colleges of education. Both of those cutoff scores are above what African Americans and Hispanics in Illinois average on those exams; they are below what Caucasians average.</p><h2 dir="ltr"><strong>Data is in</strong></h2><p>But now, it&rsquo;s been three years, and the numbers are in: the overall pass rate for the TAP is less than half what it was before, and the changes have disproportionately hurt non-Asian minorities. Sixty percent of African-Americans used to pass the TAP; now it&rsquo;s 17 percent. For Hispanics, the pass rate has dropped from 70 percent, to 22 percent.</p><p>Many are quick to warn that this is not because those candidates are less capable, but that they themselves were products of poor schools. &ldquo;If you think about who have we been under-educating in the past, it tends to be low-income and minority students,&rdquo; said Robin Steans of <a href="http://www.advanceillinois.org/">Advance Illinois</a>, an education policy group.</p><p>Steans rejects the idea that raising teacher standards must come at the cost of diversity. She says colleges of education should do more to recruit talented minorities.</p><p>But the reality is, Illinois is seeing a tradeoff. She and many others in the education field in Illinois believe this matters because year after year the white student population in the state has shrunk. According to the Illinois State Board of Education, white students make up 50.3 percent of school enrollment this year. Meanwhile, the share of white teachers in Illinois has barely changed, <a href="http://iirc.niu.edu/State.aspx?source=About_Educators&amp;source2=Teacher_Demographics">hovering between 82 and 85 percent</a>. Many feel the new TAP further exacerbates the mismatch.</p><p>&ldquo;Don&rsquo;t we want kids to have elementary teachers who have a solid grasp of these subjects?&rdquo; said Arthur McKee, of the <a href="http://www.nctq.org/siteHome.do">National Council on Teacher Quality</a>. The NCTQ has become a vocal advocate in pressuring states to raise teacher standards. McKee said Illinois made the right changes to the TAP, and should stay its course. &ldquo;We actually think that it&rsquo;s a good assessment,&rdquo; he continued. &ldquo;We believe that teachers should generally be drawn from the top half of the college-going population.&rdquo;</p><p>Nationally, that&rsquo;s where things are going. Many states are considering policy changes to make teaching more selective. Some would weed candidates out after they finish their education degrees, but others like New Jersey and Nebraska are thinking of doing what Illinois does: narrowing the pool at the front end. In most of these places, there are debates about whether changes might limit diversity in their teaching pool. Illinois is the early adopter that shows those fears are well-founded.</p><h2 dir="ltr"><strong>Teachers of their own culture</strong></h2><p>Practitioners on the ground agree that we need smart teachers, but many also believe students do better with teachers of their own culture. &ldquo;I just think it&rsquo;s so important for children to see people that look like them in positive situations,&rdquo; said Shalonda Randle, principal of Roosevelt Junior High and Elementary School in south suburban Riverdale, &ldquo;so that they can see that African Americans are teachers, are principals, are in positions of power and authority.&rdquo;</p><p>Randle started at the school as a teacher in 1996, and said she saw the student body change. &ldquo;When I first started, the demographics was pretty much, I would say 50 percent Caucasian, 50 percent African American,&rdquo; she remembered. &ldquo;Within the course of 3 years, by 1998 until &nbsp;2000 the demographics went to 100 percent African-American students.&rdquo; Meanwhile, Randle recalled being one of only two African American teachers at that time.</p><p>When Randle became principal in 2003, she said she made it a priority to hire more teachers of color. Today, more than half her teachers are African-American. She said she doesn&rsquo;t compromise the quality of her teachers for race, but she worries that the TAP may be locking out people who might make really good teachers. Randle said Illinois should keep high standards, but it should measure teacher aptitude in a variety of ways.&nbsp;</p><p>Joyce Jackson agrees; she said by any other measure, she&rsquo;d be deemed worth to teach. Jackson returned a phone call to WBEZ just hours after she had taken the math portion of the TAP. &ldquo;You can hear the shakiness in my voice, because I&rsquo;ve just come from taking the Basic Skills math portion of the new TAP exam,&rdquo; Jackson said in a recorded voice message, &ldquo;and as you can hear I am so upset because I have yet not passed it again.&rdquo;</p><h2 dir="ltr"><strong>A rigorous test</strong></h2><p>My editor had me take the TAP, to see what it&rsquo;s like. It&rsquo;s a five-hour, computer-based test, geared toward a college sophomore level. My experience was that the test is doable, but certainly rigorous.</p><p>Jackson has taken the math portion of that test seven times. She is board president for Randle&rsquo;s school district, and decided to go back to school herself to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a teacher. But after years of trying to pass the TAP, and hundreds of dollars in test preparation and test-taking, she&rsquo;s reaching the end of her tether. She has not been able to move forward in her coursework at Governor State University to complete her teaching credits.</p><p>&ldquo;I also have enough credits to switch a major and go maybe into sociology or social work or psychology,&rdquo; said Jackson. Officials of colleges of education at UIC, NEIU and Governor State University all said that many of their minority teaching candidates do what Jackson is considering: switch to other majors after failing the TAP. Jackson says it breaks her heart to think of this, because all she wanted was to teach students that they could be whatever they want.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 04 Sep 2013 07:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/push-teacher-quality-illinois-takes-toll-minority-candidates-108601