WBEZ | race http://www.wbez.org/tags/race Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 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 Long lost civil rights speech helped inspire King’s dream http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/long-lost-civil-rights-speech-helped-inspire-king%E2%80%99s-dream-108546 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Carey%20Quinn%20Chapel%20pic.jpg" title="A view from the pulpit at the 120-year old Quinn Chapel AME on South Wabash Avenue. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. often visited the church to see pastor Archibald Carey, Jr. (WBEZ/Derek John)" />A few decades ago, on a steamy, summer day a black preacher spoke before an enormous crowd about a nation free from racial strife. &quot;We, Negro-Americans, sing with all loyal Americans: My country, &lsquo;tis of thee, sweet land of liberty; of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrims&rsquo; pride. From every mountainside, let freedom ring!&quot;<br /><br />&quot;That&rsquo;s exactly what we mean,&quot; continued the preacher as he built to a dramatic climax. &quot;From every mountainside, let freedom ring. Not only from the Green Mountains and the White Mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire; not only from the Catskills of New York; but from the Ozarks in Arkansas, from the Stone Mountain in Georgia, from the Great Smokies of Tennessee and from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia &mdash; let it ring.&quot;<br />&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Carey%20head%20shot%20%282%29.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="Archibald J. Carey Jr. circa 1960. (courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)" />Pastor Archibald Carey, Jr. spoke these words in 1952 at the Republican National Convention in Chicago more than a decade before Martin Luther King, Jr.&rsquo;s appropriated them for his &#39;I Have a Dream&#39; speech. As we mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, it&#39;s fascinating to finally hear how much the earlier speech to a raucous GOP convention helped inspire Dr. King.</p><p>Carey died in 1981 and for many years, his speech was thought to be lost to history &mdash; its mere existence known only to a handful of scholars. But WBEZ recently discovered the landmark 1952 civil rights speech on a 16 rpm, 7-inch <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gray_Audograph">Gray Audograph</a> disc at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kan.</p><p>Now for the first time in 60 years, we can listen again to Carey&rsquo;s original speech &mdash; bold and brave for its time&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;&nbsp;including the famous crescendo at the end that directly inspired Dr. King.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F107629862&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><strong>Here&#39;s the beginning of King&#39;s final passage in his &#39;I Have a Dream&#39; speech:</strong></p><p><em>&quot;This will be the day when all of God&#39;s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, &#39;My country, &#39;tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim&#39;s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.&#39; And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.&quot;</em></p><p><strong>Compare that to the earlier 1952 GOP convention speech by Archibald Carey:</strong></p><p><em>&quot;We, Negro Americans, sing with all loyal Americans: My country &#39;tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty, Of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, Land of the Pilgrims&#39; pride From every mountainside Let freedom ring!</em>&nbsp;<em>That&#39;s exactly what we mean&nbsp;</em><em>&ndash;&nbsp;</em><em>from every mountainside, let freedom ring. Not only from the Green Mountains and White Mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire; not only from the Catskills of New York; but from the Ozarks in Arkansas, from the Stone Mountain in Georgia, from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Let it ring not only for the minorities of the United States, but for the disinherited of all the earth! May the Republican Party, under God, from every mountainside, LET FREEDOM RING!&quot;</em></p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Why the 1952 Republican national convention?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Carey was one of the few GOP office holders in Chicago, black or white, when the 1952 convention came to town and he was already known for his public speaking. While it may seem odd in hindsight that Carey gave the speech at a GOP convention, Vanderbilt University historian and Carey biographer <a href="http://as.vanderbilt.edu/history/bio/dennis-dickerson" target="_blank">Dennis C. Dickerson</a>&nbsp;reminds us that the times were very different then.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;When push came to shove it was usually GOP votes that could be counted on for black civil rights,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Carey knew that and was trying to help the party re-brand itself as the party of Lincoln.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">Dickerson continued, &quot;When he uses that poetry and prose he&rsquo;s speaking to more than just the GOP party. He&rsquo;s speaking to the nation at large that queries &#39;what do these black people want?&rsquo;&quot;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Carey&#39;s speech was widely commended and he received hundreds of telegrams from all over the country, including some promoting him to be Dwight D. Eisenhower&#39;s running mate. After the Eisenhower-Nixon ticket was elected Carey was appointed to several administration posts and became a delegate to the United Nations. When Barry Goldwater became the party&#39;s nominee in 1964, however, Carey made the decision to switch over to the Democrats.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>How did Carey&rsquo;s words end up in MLK Jr&rsquo;s &lsquo;I Have a Dream&rsquo; speech?</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Archibald%20Carey_130828_DJ.JPG" style="height: 200px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="A photograph of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr at the house of Chicago preacher Archibald Carey, Jr., on the left. According to Carey's niece the two developed a close relationship. (WBEZ/Derek John)" /></p><p dir="ltr">Although Carey delivered his address a full three years before the Montgomery bus boycott, it was only a matter of time before he and Dr. King crossed paths. Eventually the Georgia preacher found his way to Carey&rsquo;s church in Chicago.</p><p dir="ltr">The historic <a href="http://quinnchicago.org/" target="_blank">Quinn Chapel AME</a> still stands on South Wabash Avenue today and on a recent Sunday morning, some longtime members recalled Dr. King&rsquo;s visits fondly.</p><p dir="ltr">I remember two occasions that he was at Quinn Chapel,&rdquo; says Carolyn Dodd. &ldquo;I think the first one it was such a crowd here I was sitting in the balcony and I don&rsquo;t think I had to sit in the balcony but once or twice since that time.&rdquo; Ruth Dunham remembers when Dr. King came to Chicago to fight for open housing on the West Side. &ldquo;Rev. Carey was with him then,&rdquo; she recalled. &ldquo;They marched together, and you got a feeling they were very close, very close.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">Close enough to share their speeches? Dennis C. Dickerson says we&rsquo;ll probably never know.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We don&rsquo;t have a letter saying &#39;Dear Martin, here&rsquo;s my speech. Good luck using it in your speech.&#39; But clearly we know they interacted many times and corresponded many times,&rdquo; he said.</p><p dir="ltr">This isn&rsquo;t the first time questions have been raised about Dr. King&rsquo;s source material (the most <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1991/10/11/us/boston-u-panel-finds-plagiarism-by-dr-king.html" target="_blank">glaring example</a> being his early doctoral dissertation). But Dickerson says in this case you have to understand the black church&rsquo;s oral traditions.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Let me put it like this. if one of my students did it [plagiarize], we&rsquo;d have a real problem,&rdquo; Dickerson said. &ldquo;But it is the custom among black clergy to hear a great sermon or a great speech and just say to the author I&rsquo;m using that. &ldquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><img 1952.="" a="" along="" alt="" and="" at="" back="" both="" cabinet="" carey="" class="image-original_image" comes="" convention="" derek="" did="" dir="ltr" does="" dorothy="" dr.="" drew="" e.="" else="" experiment="" experiment..and="" file="" first="" from="" got="" her="" history="" if="" in="" it="" king="" look="" m="" niece="" of="" on="" p="" patton="" remembers="" rhetorical="" runs="" s="" same="" says="" scientist="" scripture="" she="" simply="" somebody="" sort="" speech="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Carey%20niece%20pic.jpg" still="" style="height: 206px; width: 300px; float: right;" television="" the="" then="" there="" title="Dorothy E. Patton, Archibald Carey’s niece, is the only surviving family member who remembers her uncle’s speech. A retired scientist, she compares King's use of her uncle's oratory to the way researchers build on each other's experiments. (WBEZ/Derek John)" uncle="" watching="" wbez="" well="" with="" you="" /></p><p dir="ltr">Dorothy E. Patton, Carey&rsquo;s niece, still remembers watching her uncle&rsquo;s convention speech on television in 1952. Patton says both Carey and Dr. King drew from the same rhetorical well of scripture and history &mdash; her uncle simply got there first.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I&rsquo;m a scientist and if you look at the history of science,&rdquo; Patton says, &ldquo;somebody did the first experiment and it sort of got in the back of the file cabinet somewhere, and then somebody else comes along and runs with it.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">It&rsquo;s a nice thought: the elder Carey passing the baton to the younger King who carried it across the finish line in 1963. And why not? Dickerson, in his <a href="http://www.amazon.com/African-American-Preachers-Politics-Alexander/dp/1604734272" target="_blank">biography</a>, includes a letter from Carey with the following words.</p><p>&ldquo;When I need help,&rdquo; Carey wrote, &ldquo;I can count on Martin Luther King, and when he needs help he can count on me.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Special thanks to archivist Kathy Struss at the Eisenhower Presidential Library and WBEZ engineer Adam Yoffe.</em></p><p><em>Derek L. John is WBEZ&rsquo;s Community Bureaus Editor. Follow him at <a href="http://twitter.com/derekljohn" target="_blank">@DerekLJohn</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 28 Aug 2013 07:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/long-lost-civil-rights-speech-helped-inspire-king%E2%80%99s-dream-108546 Asian-Americans hope new Chicago caucus will restore clout http://www.wbez.org/news/asian-americans-hope-new-chicago-caucus-will-restore-clout-107912 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Asian-American caucus.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Last week&rsquo;s announcement that Chicago&rsquo;s City Council would create its first Asian-American Caucus is eliciting both praise and puzzlement from some observers skeptical of its influence.</p><p>The driving force behind the new 14-member caucus is the city&rsquo;s first Asian-American council member, Ameya Pawar (47th), who says the need for a more unified voice became apparent in conversations with constituents.</p><p>&ldquo;What we heard over and over again was that, for example, you have a lot of family-owned businesses,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;and a city inspector goes in to talk to a business about an issue, and there almost always seems to be a language barrier.&rdquo; Pawar said this results in tense relations between minority business owners and the city.</p><p>&ldquo;While the city has done a really good job in making sure that certain documents and postings are available in Spanish and in Polish, we&rsquo;ve got to do a better job in making sure that it&rsquo;s available in more languages,&rdquo; Pawar added. &ldquo;We have to pass a comprehensive language access ordinance, so that if I&rsquo;m a business owner, (or if) I&rsquo;m a constituent who feels like I need to talk to the Commission on Human Relations because I&rsquo;ve been harassed, that I can speak to someone and have my complaint translated from Hindi to English.&rdquo;</p><p>Currently only the city&rsquo;s emergency services, such as 911, have access to Language Line, a service that provides telephonic translation for government agencies. Pawar&rsquo;s ordinance, which he said will be offered in conjunction with the mayor&rsquo;s Office of New Americans, would require other city departments to assess their language needs. If more departments require the service, Pawar would like them to have access to the Language Line.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;So I think one thing I want to address in the very near term, and I think the caucus is going to work on, is identifying funds for next year&rsquo;s budget, or at a minimum 2015&rsquo;s budget, to expand the language bank offerings,&rdquo; Pawar said.</p><p>Some Asians in Chicago say they&rsquo;ve felt frozen out of city affairs lately, starting when Mayor Rahm Emanuel consolidated or disbanded the advisory councils of the Commission on Human Relations two years ago. The African, Latino, Arab and Asian advisory councils were rolled into a single Equity Council that now advises the Commission.</p><p>The ethnic advisory councils, by some accounts, were meaningful forums that brought issues to light under former mayors like Harold Washington. Some say that under former mayor Richard M. Daley, they atrophied into something less &ndash; a place where minorities were given nominal access to city staff, but that ultimately accomplished little. Nonetheless, the councils were once a first point of contact for Chicagoans who wanted to bring complaints of discrimination to the city&rsquo;s attention.</p><p>&ldquo;I have heard through members of the community that they&rsquo;re having a little bit of a difficult time finding the right person,&rdquo; said Chris Zala, former Director of the Council on Asian Affairs to the Commission on Human Relations. Zala said many still come to him with problems, and he tries to direct them to city departments that might be helpful.</p><p>The new Equity Council has several Asian-American members, but two years after the dissolution of its predecessors, it has yet to gain traction.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re still in our first year as a council,&rdquo; said Josina Morita, a member of the Equity Council. &ldquo;So we&rsquo;re still doing our listening tours across the city and then we&rsquo;ll be identifying our points of strategy later in the process.&rdquo;</p><p>Many community members were alarmed at the disbandment of the advisory councils, and the sudden relative lack of high-level Asian-American policy advisors in Emanuel&rsquo;s office (unlike the previous Daley administration). All this came just as census numbers affirmed Asian-Americans as the fastest-growing minority group in the state, and one of the fastest in Chicago.</p><p>So will the creation of an Asian-American Caucus at the legislative level ameliorate the losses?</p><p>&ldquo;Perhaps it can help relay the community&rsquo;s concerns and ideas and concerns on up to the executive branch in one way or another,&rdquo; said Zala. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s my hope.&rdquo;</p><p>One interesting observation about the new caucus: of the 12 members that were originally announced on the caucus (two were added later in the week), Pawar&rsquo;s ward contains the smallest percentage of Asian-Americans, just over 7 percent. The council member whose ward has the highest percentage, at 34 percent, is Ald. James Balcer (11th).</p><p>An organizer who lobbies elected officials on behalf of Asian-American interests said Balcer was not open to consideration of a proposed ward map that would have kept the majority of Chinatown-area residents in one district. The source asked to remain anonymous because of the need to maintain a working relationship with city officials, but added that the rebuff wasn&rsquo;t surprising. Referring to other community organizations that work with Asian-Americans in Chicago, the organizer added, &ldquo;What they&rsquo;ve told us privately is it&rsquo;s been difficult to get some aldermen to be responsive.&rdquo;</p><p>Ultimately, many see the success of the caucus resting squarely on Pawar&rsquo;s shoulders. Pawar has declared that he intends to hold office for no more than two terms. His efforts may be buoyed by the growth in Chicago&rsquo;s Asian-American population. Community organizers have mounted <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/asian-american-voter-turnout-expected-increase-year-103665" target="_blank">successful voter registration campaigns</a> over the last several years, and have gained state-wide influence with the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/asian-americans-have-state-caucus-98917" target="_blank">creation of an Asian-American Caucus</a> in the General Assembly. These changes may persuade Pawar&rsquo;s fellow caucus members that it&rsquo;s time, again, to keep a seat at the table reserved for Asian-Americans in Chicago.</p><p>Members of the City of Chicago&rsquo;s Asian-American Caucus: Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th), Danny Solis (25th), Patrick O&rsquo;Connor (40th), Dick Mell (33rd), Walter Burnett (27th), Bob Fioretti (2nd), Will Burns (4th), Joe Moore (49th), James Balcer (11th), Debra Silverstein (50th), Harry Osterman (48th), James Cappleman (46th), Marge Laurino (39th), Brendan Reilly (42nd).</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/oyousef" target="_blank">@oyousef</a> and <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud" target="_blank">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p><p>Correction note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Pawar declared he would hold office for one term only.</p></p> Mon, 01 Jul 2013 11:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/asian-americans-hope-new-chicago-caucus-will-restore-clout-107912 Divvy blues: Bike-share program leaves some behind http://www.wbez.org/news/divvy-blues-bike-share-program-leaves-some-behind-107893 <p><p>Chicago on Friday morning launched a new component of its storied transit system. <a href="http://divvybikes.com/" target="_blank">Divvy</a>, the city&rsquo;s first bike-share program, kicked off with 65 solar-powered docking stations. The plan is to add hundreds more by next spring. With a fleet of 700 powder-blue bikes, the system will be one of the largest bike-sharing operations in the world.</p><p>But most of the stations will stand within a couple miles of the lakefront, clustered mainly in the Loop and densely populated neighborhoods along transit lines. This in a city that has a checkered history of providing low-income residents equal access to public infrastructure. It begs the question: Who gets to share the benefits of Chicago&rsquo;s new bike share?</p><h2 class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bikes_1.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Divvy’s first fleet of bikes, set up at the station at Daley Plaza. (WBEZ/Robin Amer)" /><strong>Bike share basics</strong></h2><p>The Divvy bikes themselves are heavy-duty commuter bikes with fenders, chain guards, built-in-lights and a small front basket, big enough for a purse or briefcase &mdash; but not a load of groceries. The bikes are painted the same sky blue as the stripes on the Chicago flag.</p><p>Users will be able to pick up a bike at any of 400 docking stations the city plans to install by next spring. After a ride, users will be able to return the bike to any other station.</p><p>Divvy&rsquo;s startup financing include $22 million in federal funds and $5.5 million in local funds.</p><p>The day-to-day operations will be up to Portland-based <a href="http://www.altabicycleshare.com/" target="_blank">Alta Bicycle Share</a>, which also runs bike-share programs in Boston, New York and Washington, D.C. Chicago Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein once consulted for Alta and received criticism when Chicago chose the company for the city&rsquo;s program. Klein said he recused himself from the selection process.</p><h2><strong>Who is Divvy for?</strong></h2><p>Divvy&rsquo;s Web site describes the program&rsquo;s participants as &ldquo;everyone 16 years and older with a credit or debit card.&rdquo;</p><p>But that doesn&rsquo;t take into account the proximity of stations or some residents&rsquo; limited access to bank cards (more on that below). Divvy is designed for short trips under 30 minutes. After that, <a href="http://divvybikes.com/pricing" target="_blank">late fees kick in</a>.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bikes_2.jpg" style="float: left; height: 200px; width: 300px;" title="Divvy’s first station appears at the corner of Dearborn and Washington streets in the Loop. Stations will be clustered in high density areas, leaving parts of the city unserved. (WBEZ/Robin Amer)" />Planners say that the system was primarily designed to address what they call the &ldquo;last two miles&rdquo; problem of commuting. Namely, how to get people to work or home after they&rsquo;ve stepped off the train or bus. Divvy is not optimized for recreational riding or long treks across town.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">The stations are concentrated in high-density parts of town &mdash; in and near the Loop and along some major transit lines. The further from the city&rsquo;s center, the fewer stations there are.</div><p>This program stems partly from the city&rsquo;s desire to spur economic development. Mayor Rahm Emanuel often touts the connection between building better bike infrastructure and attracting high tech companies to Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s part of my effort to recruit entrepreneurs and start-up businesses because a lot of those employees like to bike to work,&rdquo; he <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/16810704-418/mayor-defends-protected-bike-lanes-along-dearborn.html" target="_blank">told the <em>Chicago Sun-Times</em> </a>last December. &ldquo;It is not an accident that, where we put our first protected bike lane is also where we have the most concentration of digital companies and digital employees. Every time you speak to entrepreneurs and people in the start-up economy and high-tech industry, one of the key things they talk about in recruiting workers is, can they have more bike lanes.&rdquo;</p><h2 class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/BIKE_1_Bell.JPG" style="float: right; height: 450px; width: 300px;" title="Cynthia Bell of the Active Transportation Alliance says the city could do a lot for West Side cycling apart from bike sharing. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" /><strong>Few stations on West Side, far South Side</strong></h2><p>But this strategy, putting the first stations where the demand is already highest, means that from the outset, some of Chicago&rsquo;s poorest neighborhoods have been left behind.</p><p>There are no stations south of 63rd Street or west of Central Park Avenue. Altogether, black West Side neighborhoods like North Lawndale, East and West Garfield Park, Austin, and West Humboldt Park will have just two of the 400 planned bike-sharing stations.</p><p>The Chicago Department of Transportation said that one-third of its planned bike-sharing stations will be in census tracts below the city&rsquo;s median income. That proportion is higher than comparable systems in either Boston or Washington, D.C.</p><p>The city set up <a href="http://share.chicagobikes.org/" target="_blank">a Web portal for suggestions</a> about where to put the stations. The city received about 1,000 suggestions and another 10,000 &ldquo;likes&rdquo; on those suggestions. But suggested station locations for the West Side were few and far in between.</p><p>The city also held five community-input meetings last fall. Three were downtown, one was at a library in Roscoe Village, and just one was in a neighborhood with a high minority population. That was in Bronzeville, which is getting a handful of stations.</p><p>&ldquo;The location of the public meetings is in large part driven by our initial service area,&rdquo; says Scott Kubly, Chicago&rsquo;s deputy transportation commissioner. Kubly says CDOT has applied for additional grants that would be used to build stations beyond the 400 already planned. If and when that money comes through, Kubly said Divvy would go through a another public planning process to site those new stations.</p><p>But some West Side residents aren&rsquo;t content to wait.</p><p>Tiffany Childress Price lives in North Lawndale and teaches high school there. She bikes to work, as does her husband, who takes Ogden everyday to get to his job as a barber in River North.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s easy for the city to say, &lsquo;A community like North Lawndale is not interested in biking.&rsquo; It doesn&rsquo;t surprise me,&rdquo; Childress Prices said. &ldquo;Neighborhoods like this are often overlooked and, when asked why, it&rsquo;s that we&rsquo;re just not interested.&rdquo;</p><p>But Childress Price says people like her and her husband prove otherwise. The problem isn&rsquo;t a lack of interest but, rather, a lack of education and infrastructure, she said.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s going to take city attention, maybe city investment &mdash; time and resources into education,&rdquo; she said.</p><h2 class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/BIKE_2_Hawkins%20%281%29.JPG" style="float: left; height: 450px; width: 300px;" title="As Chicago’s West Side awaits more Divvy stations, resident Eboni Hawkins says the city ought to encourage bike-related businesses, from repair shops to bike-driven food carts. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" /></h2><h2><strong>More Black and Latino cyclists on the road</strong></h2><p>As it turns out, though, the number of black and Latino cyclists has increased dramatically in recent years. In May, <a href="http://www.sierraclub.org/" target="_blank">the Sierra Club</a> and the <a href="http://www.bikeleague.org/" target="_blank">League of American Bicyclists</a> released <a href="http://www.bikeleague.org/content/report-new-majority-pedaling-toward-equity" target="_blank">a study</a> that showed rates of minority ridership up all over the country.</p><p>Planners often measure cycling by the number of trips made by bike. While non-white riders still account for only 23 percent of trips made by bike, according to the Sierra Club study, between 2001 and 2009, the number of trips African Americans made by bike increased by 100 percent. Those made by Latinos increased by 50 percent.</p><p>In addition, 60 percent of people of color surveyed said &ldquo;more bike facilities&rdquo; would encourage them to ride, and there&rsquo;s a lot at stake. According to the study, crash fatality rates are 30 percent higher for African Americans and 23 percent higher for Hispanics than they are for white riders.</p><p>&ldquo;For too long, many of these diverse populations have been overlooked by traditional organizations and transportation planners,&rdquo; the study authors write. &ldquo;In too many instances, people of color have been largely left out of transportation decision making processes that have dramatically impacted their neighborhoods.&rdquo;</p><p>CDOT, meanwhile, has asked the city to be patient when it comes to expanding Divvy into more minority neighborhoods.</p><p>Gabe Klein, Chicago&rsquo;s transportation commissioner, acknowledged the dearth of stations on Chicago&rsquo;s black West Side and far South Side, but emphasized the need to concentrate stations in areas with more commerce and residents.</p><p>&ldquo;People ask you a lot, &lsquo;How do you make sure you have access for everybody?&rsquo; It&rsquo;s always a challenge, because they are nodal systems,&rdquo; Klein said. &ldquo;You can&rsquo;t really put a station out by Midway Airport and not have [another station] two blocks away or doesn&rsquo;t work as a network.&rdquo;</p><p>Klein compared the nascent bike-share program to the early years of the &ldquo;L&rdquo; system before it radiated miles out from the city center.</p><p>&ldquo;Imagine when CTA started 100 years ago,&rdquo; Klein said, describing a system with few stations but plans for growth. &ldquo;Now look at the CTA. It&rsquo;s ubiquitous, it&rsquo;s everywhere.&rdquo;</p><p>Whether the CTA is truly &ldquo;everywhere&rdquo; is a matter of debate, but for now CDOT is holding off on the placement of 20 stations until after next spring. Officials want to assess unanticipated demand, and make some data-driven decisions about where to expand.</p><p>&ldquo;It could very well be there,&rdquo; Klein said, pointing to the West Side on a city map. &ldquo;And 20 stations is a lot of stations.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><h2><strong>Access to biking harder for the poor and unbanked</strong></h2><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bikes3.jpg" style="height: 451px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="A prospective Divvy member tries out one of the new bikes. Some black Chicagoans want more more stations on the South and West sides. (WBEZ/Robin Amer)" />Even if the city expanded Divvy&rsquo;s bike stations and led a huge public-education campaign, there are still other potential barriers to entry.</div><p>First, there&rsquo;s the cost of membership.</p><p>CDOT officials claim the program&rsquo;s membership cost as a success. &ldquo;This will be the lowest cost form of transit available &mdash; probably less expensive than walking,&rdquo; Klein said. &ldquo;If you walked everywhere you&rsquo;d probably have to buy a couple pairs of shoes per year.&rdquo;</p><p>And while $75 a year is far cheaper than the cost of an annual CTA pass, the up-front cost could be prohibitive for some low-income users. The bike-share system in Washington, D.C., offers an $84 annual membership that can be paid for in monthly installments of $7.</p><p><a href="http://www.thehubway.com/" target="_blank">Boston&rsquo;s Hubway bikeshare</a>, meanwhile, offers steeply discounted $5 annual memberships to anyone on public assistance living within 400 percent of the poverty line. They&rsquo;ve funded this through the <a href="http://www.bphc.org/Pages/Home.aspx" target="_blank">Boston Public Health Commission</a>. So far, the Hubway has sold 650 such discounted memberships in a system of 14,000 members.</p><p>Boston&rsquo;s bike share grew out of multiple initiatives from the mayor&rsquo;s office &mdash; one focused on health and obesity, another focused on the environment and sustainability and another on economic development.</p><p>&ldquo;In many ways, biking is really at the nexus of all three of those,&rdquo; said Nicole Freedman, director of bicycle programs for Boston. She said that subsidized memberships were &ldquo;a very targeted effort to reach residents that tend to have more health and obesity issues.&rdquo;</p><p>While CDOT officials said they were excited about the public-health benefits of cycling, Chicago won&rsquo;t be offering either discounted memberships or the option of a monthly payment program to low-income residents here.&nbsp;</p><p>Equally complicated is the issue of liability.</p><p>With a few exceptions, in Chicago, you will need a credit or debit card to join Divvy or to rent a bike for the day. The system won&rsquo;t accept cash. This is about protecting the bikes, CDOT says. If you lose or steal one, Divvy will charge you $1,200 to replace it.</p><p>If you don&rsquo;t have a bank account or credit card, if you&rsquo;re living paycheck-to-paycheck or stuffing your savings under your mattress, you&rsquo;re what experts call &ldquo;unbanked.&rdquo; And if you&rsquo;re unbanked, you can&rsquo;t be charged for a replacement bike as easily.</p><p>Chris Holben, program manager of <a href="http://www.capitalbikeshare.com/" target="_blank">Capital Bikeshare</a> in Washington, D.C., said his program had faced that issue. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ll be tabling at an event,&rdquo; Holben said, &ldquo;and people will say to us, &lsquo;I don&rsquo;t have a credit card but I really want to join.&rsquo; &rdquo;</p><p>Sometimes, the hurdles to bike sharing go far beyond banking. &ldquo;Perhaps these people don&rsquo;t have access to the Internet or, if they do, they have to go to the library. Or the banks, there are a number of locations, but maybe not where they live,&rdquo; Holben said. &ldquo;If they&rsquo;re unbanked already they&rsquo;re already struggling to have access to some of the things that would make it easier.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Divvy%20map%202.jpg" style="float: left; height: 338px; width: 300px;" title="A map of Divvy’s proposed stations. The initial crop of stations won’t extend past 63rd Street on the South Side, or past Central Park Avenue on the West Side. (Courtesy of Divvy)" />So what are the unbanked to do?&nbsp;</p><p>Divvy and CDOT are planning a unique approach, one that takes banking out of the equation. They plan to partner with community groups including churches and job-training programs.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;The community-based organizations [will set] up the rules that work for their members, in terms of how many hours or time they&rsquo;ll allow members, or how they want to handle the rules around usage,&rdquo; Kubly said.</p><p>Then, the $1,200 liability will be shared between the community organization, the city and Divvy &mdash; not the user.</p><p>&ldquo;And, hopefully, when you get all those things pulled together,&rdquo; Kubly said, &ldquo;it actually takes the banking question out of it for those folks, and lets anybody have access.&rdquo;</p><p>But the city isn&rsquo;t specifying a date when it will launch the community partnership program.</p><h2><strong>Beyond bike sharing: Thinking in terms of infrastructure</strong></h2><p>Cynthia Bell, a lifelong West Sider who works for the Active Transportation Alliance, says the city could do more to encourage low-income biking, with or without Divvy.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of our people now are going to Walmart or Target, buying those bikes, which are low quality,&rdquo; Bell said. &ldquo;They break down within five months and, before you know it, people haven&rsquo;t been on their bike all summer just because of a flat. A flat kept them from riding their bike the whole summer.&rdquo;<br /><br />Bell says the city could do more to help set up bike-repair shops and safe places to park.</p><p>Tiffany Childress Price, a North Lawndale teacher and avid biker, says the reasons for bringing bike-sharing to low-income neighborhoods go beyond economic development and convenience.</p><p>&ldquo;We have the highest childhood obesity rates in the city so it seems like we&rsquo;d want to promote biking&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Chicago has made progress in laying down more bike lanes on the West Side. When it comes to the bike-share system, though, officials say most low-income neighborhoods will have to wait.</p><p><em>Robin Amer is a reporter/producer on WBEZ&rsquo;s digital team. Follow her on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/rsamer" target="_blank">@rsamer</a>.</em></p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him 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> Fri, 28 Jun 2013 07:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/divvy-blues-bike-share-program-leaves-some-behind-107893