Media coverage of race, class and inequality often follows flashpoints, sensational news moments when those issues can’t be ignored. At WBEZ, the Race, Class and Communities desk goes beyond the flashpoints to cover the ways race, class and inequality permeate broader issues and affect the quality of life of everyday Chicagoans. Senior Editor Alden Loury selected the best of WBEZ’s coverage in 2019.
Manufacturing In Chicago: The Legacy, The Promise
Early in the year, WBEZ’s Race, Class and Communities Desk embarked on an ambitious project to explore the deep connection between manufacturing and Chicago’s black communities. Now that most manufacturing jobs are located outside the city, the RCC team wanted to understand the particularly devastating impact manufacturing’s decline has had on black communities and explore the challenges to rebuilding those connections with the industry.
Part One: What The West Side Lost
Part Two: The Manufacturing Mismatch
Part Three: Zoning Won’t Save Manufacturing In Chicago
In the most-read WBEZ story of 2019, reporter Esther Yoon-Ji Kang documents the deportation story of a Filipino family in northwest suburban Mount Prospect. She shared the family’s emotional trauma — in wrenching detail and photographs — and exposed the fault lines within American immigration policy that can lead to such tragedies.
In this collaboration between APM Reports and WBEZ, reporter Maria Zamudio offers an exhaustive view of how water rates in Chicago rapidly increased during the administration of former Mayor Rahm Emanuel. She also shows the fallout, both financially and physically, for individuals who couldn’t keep up with those costs and, in some cases, were forced to live without running water. Communities of color have been hit the hardest.
Matamoros: Crisis At The Border
In 2019, we took advantage of two separate opportunities to follow Chicago-area immigration advocates to the U.S.-Mexico border: Reporters Maria Zamudio and Adriana Cardona-Maguigad captured the unfolding human drama and policy debates taking place in Matamoros, as hundreds of migrants live in tents for months in the dangerous Mexican city while seeking refuge in the United States.
In a co-production, the Make Believe Association and WBEZ reporter Natalie Moore created an informative, entertaining and simply breathtaking audio documentary that recounts the events of Chicago’s 1919 race riots. The audio play also touches on the lasting impact of the riots on the city.
In this detailed yet accessible explainer, reporter Odette Yousef breaks down the complicated process Cook County employs to collect delinquent property taxes. She also shows how that system can deepen the financial challenges of struggling homeowners and negatively impact disinvested communities.