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Showing posts with label chicago. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chicago. Show all posts

19 January 2019

Review: The Folded Map Project on stage (Collaboraction)


Chicago is a segregated city. When Martin Luther King Jr brought his nonviolent work to Chicago he was struck by a rock and remarked, "I have seen many demonstrations in the south but I have never seen anything so hostile and so hateful as I’ve seen here today." The shorthand manner to discuss our segregation is to note that the Northside is where you find White Chicagoans and the Southside is where you find Black Chicagoans. The Northside is where you find all the resources whereas on the Southside you find vacant lots and high crimes.

There have been countless attempts to bridge this divide. One of the most recent and ingenious is the Folded Map project. Simply put, who lives at 6400 North and 6400 South and how are their lives different or similar.

Now comes a stage production of the project brought to us by Collaboraction. This production is part of a larger "Encounter" series that runs through January 27th. There are in fact only 2 more times to see this particular piece: Wednesday, January 23 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, January 26at 7 p.m.

The piece was moving, but also left me wanting more. Much more. "Folded Map" is far more an origin story of Tonika Johnson and the project itself. I really wanted to hear more about what Johnson had learned from the conversations and if those on the Northside had made changes in the way they go about their lives. 

In one sense it is easy to fold the map of Chicago from Englewood, the most dangerous neighborhood if all you know of it is from the evening news, to Rogers Park, home to aging hippies and the heart of Chicago's progressive community. It should make it easier for the project, especially the stage production to ask those with more money, influence, and privilege what they will do to ease the differences we see through the project. Because it left the "what next" conversation centered on sharing ones love of gardening I felt unfulfilled. 

That is not to say that the origin story is itself a bad story. In fact it is a fascinating story of one woman's family that started in Englewood, moved to Uptown, then back. It is a case study is why it is worth the two-hour commute for some students in order to have a high school experience that prepares you to be a UN ambassador. It is heartwarming, touching, and extols the power to art to not only be a medium for storytelling, but as community building.

In the end, I strongly encourage you to see the remaining two shows. I hope that Johnson and the rest of the crew continue to evolve this piece that can help cut through the divides, both physical and mental, that keep us apart and Chicago from being the city it can be It has a companion piece, A Great Day (in the Neighborhood), which is a fantastical romp through a creative mind. 

Catch "Folded Map" on Wednesday, January 23 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, January 26 at 7 p.m. 

Disclaimer: I saw "Folded Map" through a press pass. All opinions are my own.

07 November 2016

Interview with Sarah Potenza



I get a lot of pitches to cover musicians and musical acts. My usual screening is based on my time and a quick web search. That's when I realized that Sarah Potenza is not the usual musical artist. She's making waves with the title track of her album, Monster, including its fun video (posted at the bottom of this post). I had the chance to chat with Sarah as she prepares to return to Chicago for a show at The Hideout on Saturday, November 12th. This is not a transcript, but taken from notes.  

VLF: I really enjoyed your album. Right now you are getting a lot of praise for your song, Monster. It has been called an empowerment song. Over the past few years, empowerment has been used to describe a lot of things. So what does empowerment mean to you?

Potenza: Empowerment is something that makes you motivated. Something that makes you feel a certain way. I read something about body love and since then, over the past year I have made an evolution about how I feel and see my body. I use to feel "ewww" about my body parts. But I read a story about a woman who learned to love her body, her juiciness, all of that. It empowered me to love my own body. I follow a lot of body positive people on Instagram and Twitter and it matters. When you see someone who can wear a bikini and have back fat it empowers you. It changes the way you see yourself. Especially to see yourself from a more powerful position. As feminists we need to be ok with being powerful. Feminism doesn’t mean angry. Empowered doesn’t mean angry.

VLF: In an interview with NPR you talk about not being taken seriously because of your flamboyant style. Is that one reason that drew you to audition for “The Voice”? That you would be judged by your voice and not your visual style?

Potenza: No, not at all. I auditioned because I believe in saying yes to every opportunity. Not letting your inner hipster stop you from doing things either. Too many people say no to things they think are beneath them, but I think nothing is below you. I saw "The Voice" as a way to elevate my career and platform. So I decided to walk through that door.

VLF: Oh, great! I asked because I know about the research about blind auditions being great for removing many biases. The classic one is about orchestra auditions and how once blind auditions became standard, orchestras went from being mostly dudes to a better balance. 

Potenza: ARGH!! I hate that. You know I use to send emails with a man's name because I knew I wasn't being taken seriously by some in the music business. Now my husband handles the business side of my music business because he is taken more seriously. This is just one of the many reasons why I early voted! I have been so incredibly hurt and disgusted by the many men I know who hate Hillary. They have a loathing for no reason, but I know it is because of what she represents as a woman.

VLF: Agreed! OK, pivoting back to your music.... Monster is bringing you such amazing attention because in our thin-obsessed society, being proud of your not-size-zero body is radical. Do you worry that the attention is too focused on this one song, this one radical message and won’t carry the rest of your amazing work to people’s ears?

Potenza: No, I don’t really…I'm honored if people just get this one song. I do a lot of work with young women. I teach workshops and I have a lot of fans who are young girls. One girl did her 7th grade career day project on me. I don't know her, but she lives in Michigan. I encourage girls to be their own best friend. My mom and I are now great friends. My mom use to put a lot of energy into her looks. She's a life-long member of Weight Watchers and I use to feel bad that I would never be a size 4 like her. I want to be the role model for girls who will never be a size 4. But yes, I definitely want people to explore the rest of the album.

VLF: What does success look to you? Do you have it?

Potenza: It is weird. After you have been on "The Voice," everything seems small after that. I have had so much success already. I do feel successful in a lot of ways. At the same time I know there are so many more mountains to climb. Success looks like Bonnie Raitt, Neko Case, Alabama Shakes. I’m going to be playing The Hideout and having a hundred people will be a success. I want the longevity. I want to become iconic. I want to get to be where I can be an artist and do what I want to do. I'm always creating. It's funny, promotion wise you’re always living in the past because I recorded the album a year ago and wrote Monster long before that. For me, success is closing that time gap between creation and promotion. Yeah, I want Lemonade success - to write, create, and distribute as quickly as Beyoncé does.

VLF: How do you practice feminism within the music industry?

Potenza: wow...This is a hard question, good, but I haven't thought about this. I think I practice feminism by being myself and being a role model, by writing the music I want to write. I am not writing songs where women are only doing things they "should be" singing about. I do not want to be participating in the gendered nature of song roles. I practice feminism by writing about things like the election, without being preachy in songs, but writing about them. I've been touched by Leelah Alcorn's story. I am thinking about writing about her. But do it from a clever, non preachy way like Monster. Not angry, not sad. I'll be following along the steps laid by Neko Case.

VLF: Thanks for taking time out to talk to me. Good luck in Chicago! And the rest of the tour. 

Potenza: Thanks for wanting to talk!



Sarah Potenza
Saturday, November 12, 2016
Doors: 8:30 pm / Show: 9:00 pm
The Hideout
$12.00 - $15.00

01 November 2016

Why I brought Ida B. Wells flowers


As anyone paying a teeny bit of attention to this year's Presidential campaign knows we are now one week away from election day. Much has been written about taco trucks, emails, sexual assault, and adorable old (mostly white) ladies who were born before or around the time women's suffrage was written into the US Constitution. No matter what the outcome is, November 8, 2016 will be a historic day as it took 96 years from suffrage to having a woman as a candidate of a major political party. Many women have run before, but Hillary Clinton is the first to be steps away from being the first woman to be elected to the highest office in the USA.

This means for many women we are reflecting back. Reflecting on our grandmas and mothers who were our first women's studies teacher, who role modeled strong womanhood, and who could critique Hillary while still sporting a "I'm with her" button. It also means reflecting on the countless women who fought for suffrage including the most recognizable suffragist in the USA is Susan B. Anthony.

Anthony has been memorialized on the dollar coin and since at least 2014 had women voters visit her grave after they have cast their vote. The image of her grave full of "I voted" stickers has gone viral. The fact that I have seen that image frequently in the build up to election day made me stop and think.

First of all, I'm in Chicago. Even if I wanted to say thanks to SBA I can't.

Second, being a Chicago feminist means I know our history is chock-full of kick ass feminists and maybe there's someone here to visit. OF COURSE THERE IS!!!

My first thought was Ida B. Wells.

Wells famously gave the suffrage leadership a big middle finger when she refused to walk at the back of the 1913 suffrage parade in Washington, DC. She was also a journalist, anti-lynching activist, and all-around bad ass. I said a quick prayer and searched for her grave. JACKPOT!!

According to "Find a Grave" her resting place is on the south side of Chicago near the Museum of Science and Industry at the Oak Woods Cemetery. Now to find someone to go searching for Wells. I enlisted Natalie Moore of WBEZ and author of The South Side (go get it now!).

On Monday we met up at Oak Woods, went to the office and asked how to find Ida B. Wells. After some navigating with a paper map*, we found her headstone. I left her some flowers as a thank you. I haven't voted yet, so I couldn't leave my "I voted" wristband** for her.

It is nice when my ideas pan out so well. Feminists of color continue to fight for our place within the movement, call out "white feminism" when it rears its head, and create spaces that center our lives and experiences.  Natalie and I stood there for a bit having a great conversation about racism in the suffrage movement, racism in the campaign, how we need to still have a much needed conversation about racism in the USA, and even swapping stories about our daughters. I haven't studied her work close enough to know for sure, but I'd like to think that Wells would be hella proud of so much of our work, from Donna Brazile to Opal Tometi, Alixia Garza and Patrisse Cullors. Wells would be proud of each of us who have been told to "stand over there" only to show up anyway. Some of us will cast our vote for Clinton, some won't. My visit there wasn't about who you we vote for, but to remember and mark this historic moment by saying thank you to a suffragist who was also a woman of color.

Instead of only thanking Susan B. Anthony for our ability to vote on the 8th, take a moment to do some research to find out who your local suffragists were and thank them too.

* We also got a packet of the Who's Who of Oakwood. Jesse Owens one of the many amazing people laid to rest here. It is also the future resting place of Roland Burris.
**  Chicago voters don't get stickers cause too many people put them on walls, so this year we are getting paper wristbands.

29 April 2016

Flashback Friday: The Gender Voting Gap by Kartemquin Films

cartoon of a man talking to a woman. Woman giving side eye.

To celebrate their 50th anniversary, Kartemquin Films is releasing films to download for free! This week the film is from 1984 and "explores the growing difference in the voting patterns of men and women (the gender gap) that could no longer be denied by the mid-1980's. Issues like compensation equality, environmental preservation, subsidized childcare and healthcare became wedge issues in Ronald Reagan's America as more and more women joined the workforce." It is wonderfully illustrated by Nicole Hollander. At the end of the film there is an update on the issues from 2012. It is pretty sad how much the 1984 film is still relevant in 2016, especially considering Donald Trump's "woman card" comments.

You can view the film online below, but if you visit Kartemquin Films you can download the film for free and own it forever!


14 March 2016

Book Buzz: Investigating Lois Lane: The Turbulent History of the Daily Planet's Ace Reporter

Investigating Lois Lane: The Turbulent History of the Daily Planet's Ace Reporter by Tim Hanley is an intriguing look into a character most people consider a sidekick. As someone who has never read any of the Superman comics, my grasp of the mythology is based on the 1980s movies with Margot Kidder as Lois. I always loved her spunk. While I am far from finished with this book, it is already shedding light on not just the origins of Lois, but what the comics industry was like in the 1930s and 1940s.

What I have found the most fun about this book is that it is arranged so each chapter starts with discussing Lois Lane, the character. The subchapter is then focused on the stories of real life people who brought Lois to life.

I'm posting this as a Book Buzz in order to alert Chicagoans that Tim Hanley will be at Women and Children First this Wednesday at 7:30 PM for an all-star panel discussion with Lauren Burke, Caitlin Rosber, Katie Schenkel and my friend Anne Elizabeth Moore. See you there!

Please purchase your own copy of Investigating Lois Lane from Powells or Indiebound and support Viva la Feminista.  

Disclaimer: I received a review copy from a publicist.    

13 March 2016

Remembering Dr. Quentin Young


Dr. Quentin Young left our world last week. While he was 92, it still seems too soon to lose this mighty leader. I doubt that he would have known me from any of the other Chicagoans who stood in awe of his work. But I wanted to mark this moment here. Dr. Young may be best remembered for being a staunch advocate for single-payer healthcare, I saw him at reproductive justice events. One year I MC'd an abortion speak out at Roosevelt University. He came to tell his story of watching women who has attempted self-abortions show up at Cook County Hospital. I wish we had video of that moment because I cannot do justice to his words. Only to say that his words were inspiring.

A few months ago I heard his voice again in an unlikely space - Latino USA. His granddaughter was reporting on growing up Latino and Jewish. It made my heart smile.



So here's to you, Dr. Young! Thank you for not only doing good in the world, but pushing us all to do so ourselves. To be more than we think we can be. I hope Chicago does you proud.

Image from Democracy Now!

13 February 2016

Beyond Balance Storify

In case you weren't able to attend Women Employed's "Beyond Balance" conversation, I Storified it. Enjoy!


08 February 2016

Beyond Balance: Work, Family, Life in 2016 in Chicago


One of the top questions I get from students is "How do you balance work and life?" My top response? "I don't. There's no balance, it's a constant juggle." And I have it good in that I have a partner who is active in our daughter's life, pulls his share of domestic duties and we have jobs with paid vacation and sick days. So what are the steps to making our juggle less illogical and allow others to enjoy the benefits we participate in?

This Thursday Women Employed hosts a conversation moderated by their executive director, Anne Ladky with Susan Lambert, University of Chicago, Associate Professor in the School of Social Service Administration, Iliana Mora, COO at Erie Family Health Center and WE Board member, and Rex Huppke, Chicago Tribune journalist of the popular workplace column, "I Just Work Here."I plan to attend and live tweet the conversation, so keep an eye on my Twitter feed that evening! But to prepare, I was able to ask Iliana Mora a few questions about the topic:

1) The challenges that women face in the workplace change as our lives change. How can we best discuss this issue without it focusing solely on mothers?

First we need to recognize that our identity is much more than our job and to give equal or even greater value to the other parts of a woman’s life. We also need to start from the basic belief that everyone’s time outside of work is equally valuable and equally important. While work-life balance can admittedly be a challenge for me, I expect it and protect it for the women who work with me, regardless of their personal situations.

2) What changes has Erie Family Health Center made to help women address the challenges of the work-life juggle?

At Erie we have almost 600 employees, about 90% of whom are women. They range from housekeeping staff to Medical Assistants to physicians. We are always learning from them how to best support this juggle. Right now we offer career-track part-time work at all levels of the organization as well as evening and weekend work and parental leave to new fathers to support the women in their lives. We are also very flexible about staff’s needs and commitments outside of the job. As a leader and manager, my priority is an excellent and timely work product – not on whether it gets completed between 9 and 5.

3) As someone who works in not just a large organization, but one that serves a lot of Chicagoans, what is one thing that Erie has done to help the people you serve with their own juggle?

We know that our patients are juggling a lot and sometimes their health comes last. So we make our services as convenient, accessible and patient-centered as possible. That means evening and weekend hours, urgent care, access to medical advice 24/7 and a patient portal where patients can do their medical business online whenever they have time. Erie case managers also help our patients to address their barriers to making their medical appointments, such as offering transportation and assisting them with getting released from work.

******************
While registration is closed for Thursday, if you have a question you would like to ask this ace panel about work, life, family balance/juggle, please leave it in the comments or tweet me so I can pass along your questions.

31 December 2015

Chicago Women Who Owned 2015



When I asked social media which Chicago women kicked ass in 2015, I got a list far too long to do justice. I also realized how many of my lady friends kick ass every day, but it's a constant kicking of the ass, not a lot of headline kicking. Ya know what I mean? So I tried to make this list a mix of Chicagoans who had some headline kicks and some who kick ass every day and deserve a shout out. Let's get started, shall we?

Photos from social media or public domain pages

Luvvie Ajayi

Luvvie did my job and summed up her amazing year herself! I love it when women do that. Yes, let's take a moment to reflect on our accomplishments and dance at our own parties. Luvvie makes us laugh, even when we want to cry. She pushes us to be active, even down to our shoes. You'll never laugh so hard when learning so much than when you are in a meeting with her. From hanging with celebs to her epic travel schedule, Luvvie definitely owned 2015.

Charlene Carruthers

Carruthers is on a lot of lists this year for her leadership of the Black Youth Project 100. Chicago's response to police killing young people of color, particularly young black men, did not begin with the Laquan McDonald tape. No, Carruthers and her posse of social justice warriors have been organizing Chicago's youth of color for sometime now. Many credit this larger organizing as to why Chicago's reaction to the McDonald tape was swift, pointed and why Chicago did not burn. And while most media is focused on black men and boys, BYP100 continues to say the names of the many black women and girls also killed by state violence. When allegations of rape were made against a BYP100 leader, Carruthers and the organization took those seriously by not only meeting with the survivor, but suspending the accused: "As an organization rooted in a Black queer feminist framework, we take reports of sexual assault extremely seriously." That's what feminist leadership should look like.

Keidra Chaney

Keidra is a good friend, but that shouldn't stop us from celebrating her accomplishments this year! For 8+ years she has run, The Learned Fangirl, a smart, feminist take on pop culture and all things geek. To celebrate 8 years, Keidra announced that TLF had received a grant and a fiscal sponsor in order to PAY writers (ZOMG, right?) and to take TLF to the next level. I know how hard she must have worked to get to that moment. She also gave a fab talk at the National Women's Studies Association conference.

Ana Fernatt

The sole woman to nominate herself on my FB wall was Ana Fernatt. She hosts the podcast "Champagne & Snark." Fernatt invites interesting people to drink champagne while discussing their work and impact in the world. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to her conversation with Alysse Dalessandro, whom I met years ago at some Chicago feminist gathering. This is not a clean, hi-produced podcast but the rawness suits the conversations.

Amy Guth

A friend and supporter of #365FeministSelfie, Guth started 2015 quitting one of her many jobs to pursue more jobs! Now you know why I love this woman. One of her new projects is to create a documentary series about online harassment...which quickly got her a lot of online harassment! I'd say she hit a bulls eye there. Guth gave AWJ-Chicago, where she serves as president, the scoop on her 2016.

Photos from public domain pages except for Sarah & Lynn by Tracy Baim, Olivia by Andrea Bauer

Yamani Hernandez

When I first started engaging in the feminist activist community, it was very white. As the Latina, I was often asked to bring in other Latinas...cause ya know, they follow what I say! National organizations are not only very white, but very East Coast (NYC or DC). That is why the hiring of Yamani Hernandez as the new executive director of the National Network of Abortion Funds is kick ass. There are so many reasons we need a WOC leading this network, especially as we try to repeal the Hyde Amendment. Can we dance a little that a major feminist and reproductive justice org is now being lead from Chicago?!

Sarah Karp

Over two years ago Karp published an investigation into a no-bid contract given to the former CPS superintendent's former employer. Those of us fighting for better public schools in Chicago read it and shook our heads. What will ever come of it? How about a guilty plea by Barbara Byrd-Bennett? Not shabby by someone who was practicing actual journalism?!

Carol Marin

Long time readers know that I've been a fan of Carol Marin for years. And she definitely falls into the category of "consistent ass kicker." This year we saw her be one of the leaders for the investigation into Laquan McDonald shooting. Marin tries to not only hold Mayor Emmanuel accountable for his decisions, as well as remind us voters of what is happening under his leadership. And that is something we need to remember as we head into an election year. Marin can hold him accountable via the media, but if we keep voting the way we do (or not voting), there's little she can do about that.

Lynn Mooney and Sarah Hollenbeck

The new owners of Women and Children First have earned a gold star for their first year on the job! A beautiful remodeling of the space gives us book worms new places to curl up with a book and more open space to spy our friends who are also hanging in the bookstore. If you know me, you know that this is my bookstore and Sarah & I are friendly. I've moderated conversations there in the past and will be doing my first book talk on January 27th.

Olivia Ortiz

In 2013, Ortiz filed a Title IX complaint against the University of Chicago over their mishandling of her reported sexual assault. She went on to found, Phoenix Survivors Alliance, to support other sexual assault survivors at UofC. In September the Chicago Reader published a multi-page, kick ass, feature on Ortiz and others' activism to change how U of C deals with and tries to prevent sexual assault. There were few places you could go in Chicago without seeing the crimson red cover with "DON'T BE A RAPIST" in large white letters.

Photos from social media or public domain pages

Amalia Pallares

Pallares is director of the UIC Latin American and Latino studies program. Up until this past year, I have mainly admired her work from afar. I like to tell people that UIC is chock full of activist-academics and Pallares is no exception. From the publication of her latest book, Family Activism  Immigrant Struggles and the Politics of Noncitizenship, to her leadership to gain undocumented students access to financial aid, she took 2015 by storm. Listen to her comment on Ecuador's attempt to implement an inheritance tax.

Toni Preckwinkle

The President of Cook County started out 2015 in what many thought was weak by not running against Mayor Emanuel (I seriously overheard someone the other day saying she wimped out) to ending with fierceness by launching her former chief of staff, Kim Foxx, to challenge beleaguered Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez. She also stood with Cook County Commissioner Chuy Garcia to call for Alvarez and McCarthy to resign.

Sylvia Puente 

As director of the Latino Policy Forum, Puente has been busy in 2015. She started off the year commenting and analyzing how the Rahm vs. Chuy race would not only end up, but impact Chicago's Latino communities. Puente chimed in when the lone Latino was booted from the Chicago Public School board. Given that 2016 is another election year, she'll be plenty busy discussing if and how Chicago and Illinois' Latino communities find their way to the polls.

Benita Ulisano

You know how some health centers and clinics that provide abortion services often get protesters? Anti-women folks who want to scare the women seeking services into obtaining health care? The mighty who help those women as they approach and enter the clinics are clinic escorts. But how is a scared woman to know which of those standing outside a clinic is her friend and not a foe? Vests. And in 2013 long-time clinic escort Benita Ulisano started, The Clinic Vest Project, an organization that would help clinics around the country obtain vests for their volunteer escorts. "The mission of the Clinic Vest Project is to provide FREE clinic escort vests to groups that service facilities that support the full range of reproductive health options including safe and legal abortion." This year I've proudly watched as Ulisano was interviewed around the interwebs and receiving the accolades this long time reproductive justice warrior deserves.  ​

Patti Vasquez

I had heard the name floating around over the past year or two, but upon further inspection, Vasquez is clearly kicking some ass. First, she's been vocal as a mom of a child with autism. Second, she inked a deal with ABC to create show based on her life:
The Better Half, inspired by Vasquez’s family, centers on a Mexican-American working mother who is a well-intentioned and sometimes-misguided citizen disrupter. She tackles the small and large injustices around her for the greater good, even though many times no one asks her to. Her well-meaning actions create consequences that affect her career, community and home life in the crowded Chicago brownstone she shares with her parents, husband and children.
If ABC isn't scared to be real outside of reality TV, Chicago's activist mom community will give Vasquez plenty to portray.

*~*~*~*

15 fabulous Chicago ladies is not enough to paint the picture of the amazing and transformative work being done in this city and region. Please share your pick for a Chicago woman who owned 2015 in the comments and do include links to her organizations so we can all find some new places to support in 2016.

30 November 2015

Giving Tuesday

This year I am asking you to consider giving to one (or both) of these organizations:


Bitch Media is an almost-20-year-old feminist media organization. You may be most familiar with their magazine, but they also publish an amazing blog and podcast. They are independent and rely on reader support. Bitch Media has given a lot of writers their first paid outlet. Recently they launched a fellowship to further support their efforts to launch emerging writers.

Earlier this year, I joined the board of directors. As a board member of Bitch Media, I need your help to raise $1,000 by the end of December 2015. 
  1. Please donate an amount that is a slight stretch for you. It can be $10 or even $100.
  2. Join me in being a sustaining member of Bitch Media by giving a small amount every month. When you do, you get to be a member of the B-Hive! How cool is that name?

The Chicago Abortion Fund (CAF) has a goal of $8,000 this year! They are a 25-year-old organization where countless individuals have turned to for help terminating a pregnancy. The Chicago Abortion Fund fights to overturn economic barriers to reproductive choice. Through direct service, CAF assists women in obtaining safe abortion services. In partnership with the women we serve, CAF engages and mobilizes low-income and poor women to become advocates for expanded reproductive access.

As a former board member of the Chicago Abortion Fund, I am asking you to please help them make choice possible for the women of Chicago.  

Thank you!

27 November 2015

Marching on Black Friday for #LaquanMcDonald

I hiked over to the Mag Mile to be at the start of the Laquan McDonald march. This first photo is from the start of the march at Michigan and the Chicago River. I got there a bit late and the first thing I saw was a white man being arrested. There were conflicting stories or views of what happened. Some people I ran into said it was an act of civil disobedience. A friend I ran into said it looked like a deliberate act to cause trouble. What I can say is that act and some disagreement between individual groups may be why the march ended up split into two sections.

 Here is a better shot of the march filling up Michigan Avenue and heading north from the river.
Often in organizing there is a scrum to get to the head of the press release, march or podium. It is important to the issue who is framed by the media and thus seen by the public as the face of the issue. I heard from chatter that this scrum had occurred between competing organizing groups. There were a few moments in the march where different groups created a line of their supporters to span Michigan avenue. As I walked, I saw three of them. But this moment where young Black people, most like none older than 12, stood arm in arm across Michigan Avenue.

 
This is a shot of the march behind me after I caught up with the front part of the march. At the top of the march, the police tried to keep the march from spanning the entire width of Michigan avenue, but soon enough we took up the whole space. 

 
 Finally made it to Water Tower. Here is where I noticed the police were using their bicycles to create a fence to keep the demonstrators in the street and shoppers out. I was able to slip through a hole and into Water Tower where I was picking up my daughter. 


Once inside Water Tower security locked the doors. I noticed it happening and tried to get out, but I was too slow. Instead we were told to go back up the second floor and exit out the back entrance. Some shoppers were clearly panicked about this situation. It was more like mass claustrophobia set in. After finding my daughter, we left Water Tower and headed out to our long-planned volunteer hour at a neighborhood organization.

It was great to run into friends, especially friends made on the Chuy campaign. It was good to spend some time supporting my Black neighbors, especially BYP100. Sharing these photos and my observances is also in support.

I want to add that while we should be thankful that the demonstrations have been peaceful, we should ask ourselves why we would have expected it otherwise? I know Baltimore and Ferguson burned and Chicago has its own history of burning in outrage, but perhaps this peaceful and thoughtful reaction to the video can help us alter our expectations of how communities act. It will be interesting to see how others who have been organizing in the community can say about why Chicago did not burn or why the others did. Something different happened and it was not just because the mayor told us to behave. 

25 November 2015

Organizational change, #LaquanMcDonald and #RekiaBoyd


I've been spending the last 18 hours listening to the community react to the release of the video showing the killing of Laquan McDonald. Last night Black youth gathered to march on Chicago as a sign of force and anger. At least five arrests occurred [to support them donate to the Chicago Community Bond Fund], including Malcolm London, a community organizer who was among those who refused to meet with the Mayor prior to the release of the video.

What I want to muse about here is how we talk about organizational and culture change of the police.

Discussing police brutality and the killing of Laquan McDonald and Rekia Boyd is always fraught with minefields. As soon as you start to debate what should be done to police officers someone will jump in with "not all police!" It is true that not all police officers shoot their guns recklessly. And that is where we start to lose the debate - we cannot focus on individual officers when discussing change. Yes, having the officer charged with murder is a great step, but if we focus on just what his punishment will be, we will lose momentum for real change if he is found guilty and sent to prison.

Rather we should focus on the police officers who stood by watching the officer who killed Laquan to empty his gun into the body of a child. What type of culture are our police operating in that no one tried to stop him? I understand the bystander effect - the phenomena whereas being in a crowd makes humans less likely to step in to help. Coupled with this is are ever present elephants of racism and sexism, not to mention the privilege of being a police officer. Written into the laws of this country is the OK to use lethal force if needed....then to have "if needed" defined by each officer. Then there are the police officers and city officials who knew there was a dash cam video and did not release it or act on it. I understand that disciplining police officers takes more time than charging a citizen with a crime. But 400 days is excessive. Plus the sense that we would not be at this moment if media had not sued to have the video released.

There is a culture that has been built to not just protect the police because their jobs are tough, but to always believe the police. Malcolm London was arrested and accused of hitting a police officer. Everyone who has worked with him, including a Chicago Alderman, has said there is no way London would have done that. Demonstrators on a Periscope last night were accusing the police of calling women in the crowd bitches. How do you decide if the police would do that when they are at the center of our attention or not? Are they that certain in their cultural protective status to do such a thing?

So yes, not all police will gun down a teenager with a knife, but yes all police operate under a culture that allows other police officers escape accountability.

We need to change the police system to refocus on police keeping the peace through peaceful actions. Too many of these killings have occurred over trivial incidents. Laquan was thought to be vandalizing cars. Is that really a crime we want our police to address by using lethal force? Do we really want the punishment of refusing to follow police orders to be shot 16 times?

What would justice look like here?

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said in yesterday's press conference, "We have a tragic ending to -- unfortunately -- a tragic life of a young man, who was betrayed on a number of different levels,"

Yes, yes we do. And while I appreciate the profile that Mary Mitchell offered of Laquan, it continues to focus on an individual. How did we allow a system to be built that "saved" a child from a abusive home only to deliver him to state-sponsored abusers in the foster care system? Let us not focus so much on how hard Laquan fought to survive the system he lived in that we fail to see the forest we allowed to grow around him.

Many of us will point to the police and yell "shame." But I ask you to stop and consider what part you played in building this system. This examination does nothing to take away from the responsibility that the officer who killed Laquan must face. Rather it should push us to do better, demand better from our elected officials, vote every single time, vote for candidates who respect all parts of Chicago, question authority, and respect each other.

What does justice look like here?

24 November 2015

#LaquanMcDonald Reading List


Earlier today the City of Chicago released the dashcam video of the killing of Laquan McDonald. There is a lot of digest so I have collected a few things to read about not just his killing, but the ongoing conversation about police and the Black community. I will not be linking to the video itself. I do not want to watch it, but if you do, I'm sure it is not hard to find. If you have an article that should be on this list, please leave it in the comments or tag me Twitter (@veronicaeye).
I'm adding to this list as additional articles come out as Chicago continues to struggle with the aftermath of the video release:


13 January 2015

From Durango, Mexico to Mayor of Chicago?

was ready to enjoy his first uncontested election. He had a few good books picked out that had been taunting him. Then he want to visit his friend Karen Lewis after her surgery. She greeted him with, "Sit down. You need to run." Lewis ran down all the reasons he was the best person to run for mayor of Chicago. And with that Chuy went home to discuss the idea with his wife. Her response?

HELL YES!

A few months and thousands of signatures later, Jesus "Chuy" Garcia is building a coalition of community people who want to work together to make Chicago a better place to live, learn and do business.

When I heard Chuy was jumping into the race I was excited. I had never met him, but I had followed his last campaign to become a Cook County commissioner. He seemed to be the exact type of politician so many people, myself included, wish where were more of. Chuy appears to have always fought for his community and with integrity.

That is why I said yes when I was asked to join a list of over 100 Latino leaders to endorse Chuy. Being at the Latino Leader event was exhilarating. The campaign office was filled with energy. Supporters spoke about Chuy's commitment to Chicago, to supporting neighborhood schools, to real comprehensive immigration reform and being part of a people's movement. Chuy spoke of being the Latino candidate who would work to empower the Latino community. As I shook his hand I mentioned that my dad is also from the state of Durango, Mexico. He lit up and smiled.

Later that day I reported to my dad and we had a great conversation about their homestate's penchant for mustaches and supporting our familia. My dad and I don't talk about a lot of things outside of his granddaughter and sports, but I can see us having a lot of talk about over the next few weeks.

On Sunday I attended a coffee where Chuy came to answer questions. I have been to enough of these events that I space out during "safe neighborhoods" and "strong schools" talk. When perked me up was how he brought up coalition building among community organizations. Chuy lamented the tragedy of community groups feeling that they are in competition because of limited foundation and government grants. He also impressed me with his response to a woman's question about her perceived distrust that African-Americans have of him. Essentially he discussed how discrimination against African-American workers and the hiring of immigrant workers has built a tension between the communities as some believe we need to fight over the same piece of pie. Chuy wants everyone to benefit from the whole pie.

I like that idea. This will require a lot of work, including policy changes, but to start, we need someone who will champion them. I really believe that person is Jesus "Chuy" Garcia.

This campaign has national ramifications, so if you cannot vote for Chuy, please consider contributing to his campaign. $50 or $5,000 will make a difference!

11 January 2015

EVENT: Chicago Women's Mayoral Forum


Chicago Has A Women’s Agenda –
Where Do Mayoral Candidates Stand On It?

Hear What The Leading Candidates Have To Say at the

CHICAGO WOMEN’S MAYORAL FORUM

Saturday, January 24 | 2pm to 5pm
Chicago Temple | 77 West Washington St

Featuring:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel
Alderman Robert Fioretti
Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia
Willie Wilson

Moderator: Cheryl Corley, NPR Correspondent


Brought together by:

American Association of University Women (AAUW) | Broadcast Ministers of Chicago | Chicago Area Women’s History Council | Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network | Chicago Women Take Action | Coalition of Labor Union Women | Democratic Women of the South Suburbs | EarthHeart Foundation | Girlfriends Group | Girls in the Game | Girls on the Run | GlobalGirl Media | HotHouse | Independent Voters of Illinois Independent Precinct Organization (IVI-IPO) | Jobs For Justice | Mujeres Latinas en Acción | National Council of Jewish Women Chicago North Shore Section | National Rainbow PUSH Coalition | Planned Parenthood | Rape Victim Advocates | The Voices and Faces Project | Younger Women’s Task Force

21 February 2014

Guest Post: Mad Men Workplace Policies and Leaky Pipelines: Women Journalists Talk Gender Bias

Viva la Feminista welcomes, Ambar Mentor-Truppa as a guest blogger today! Ambar is a Chicago-based feminist and public relations executive committed to cultivating the next generation of women leaders. As a board member and chair of Women Employed’s Advocacy Council, Ambar mobilizes young professional women to advocate on behalf of all working women and families. 



“I lived through the Mad Men era!” That’s what author and trailblazing journalist Lynn Povich told the crowd gathered for a panel discussion co-hosted by Women Employed on February 13th.

The audience listened attentively as Povich continued, sharing the story of how she and her female colleagues confronted the blatant sexism at Newsweek in the 60s. When they were told that “women don’t write at Newsweek,” the women not only didn’t accept it; they fought against it. In 1970, Povich and 45 other women sued the magazine for sex discrimination.

“We loved Newsweek—we just wanted Newsweek to be better,” Povich explained. She and her Eleanor Holmes Norton, now a D.C. congresswoman. Their landmark victory sent ripples through the entire news industry, paving the way for sex discrimination lawsuits against the New York Times and the Washington Post. One measure of the suit’s success is that just five years later, Lynn became Newsweek’s first female Senior Editor.

Joining Povich at the panel discussion was recent Newsweek writer Jesse Ellison, who co-authored a Newsweek article on the 40th anniversary of the landmark lawsuit questioning how much has actually changed for working women. The two remarkable female journalists answered questions posed by moderator Peggy Davis, a nationally recognized lawyer who serves as the Executive Director for the Chicago Committee where she advances racial and ethnic diversity in the legal profession.

While Povich spoke about how she and the other women experienced blatant sex discrimination, Ellison described the more subtle forms of gender bias in the workplace today. In the 2000s, she and her fellow female journalists at Newsweek watched as men around them were given plum assignments, raises, and promotions, while they were left to “walk in place.” They had been raised to believe that they could do anything, that our society had achieved equality—so it took them a long time to identify what they were facing as gender bias. “Today, it takes longer to say something is sexist,” Ellison told the crowd. “It’s a watered down version” that is consequentially “harder to pinpoint.” It was only after Ellison and her female colleagues began sharing their stories that they realized they were facing a collective problem in a flawed system rather than individual failings.

The women discussed the ways this more subtle gender bias plays out in today’s workplace. Povich described how although there are women with the experience and skills to lead, they still aren’t getting ahead. Povich called this a “leaky pipeline” problem: our workplaces aren’t structured to allow women to both be good mothers and good bosses, so many of them either opt out or are forced out of upper management positions.
fellow plaintiffs won the lawsuit with the help of the ACLU and their attorney,

During the Q&A session, the discussion touched on many of today’s hot topics for working women, ranging from the confidence gap outlined by Sheryl Sandberg in Lean In to the evolution of feminism and the women’s movement. “Our feminism was a very visible feminism,” Povich told the audience, describing the sense of sisterhood and united purpose created by the women’s, civil rights, and antiwar movements. “Today, feminism is online.” She mentioned the recent article in The Nation, Feminism’s Toxic Twitter Wars [ed. VLF's response]. Ellison also spoke about the divisions among women today and how she and her co-authors faced backlash from other women for publishing their article on the 40th anniversary of the sex discrimination lawsuit. One of her hopes for the future is that women and men can overcome some of their differences and join together to fight against bias in the workplace.

The evening finished on a hopeful note: the message that Povich says she wants people to take from her story is that “it is possible to change the system from within.” It may not be easy, but as her own story testifies, it can happen. And what should that change look like? “The workplace has to be restructured for working parents. This isn’t a women’s problem—it’s a societal problem. And I’m hoping young men, who are far more involved in raising their children than my father’s generation was, will come together with their female colleagues, who still bear most of the responsibility for child rearing, and demand that their workplaces change.”

Watch the video below to hear Lynn Povich and Jesse Ellison talk about making change at Newsweek.





20 July 2013

EVENT: Viva la Feminista on COLD News

There's a new show in Chicago! COLD News is a new show premiering its first season this July. The show will run July 20th, 27th, and August 3rd Saturdays at 10pm at Studio BE (3110 N Sheffield).

I'll be on the July 27th show!

And to help encourage you to come out and attend, use the code "Veronica" to get half off your ticket! Make sure to select July 27th.

This should be a fun event. And I hope some Blogher folks will decide to take an adventure off campus to see more of Chicago!

More about the show:
The show is the first of its kind in Chicago, a local live news show all about what's happening here in Chicago with interviews from some of the most informed people in town.

It will feature three reporters (comedians) doing independent segments about local events and what's happening around town!

Due to FCC regulations, they cannot divulge the extent of our lovely sponsor's generosity, but Powell Brew House will be in attendance for every show and will be generous to every audience member.

24 February 2013

EVENT: The Op-Ed Project in Chicago - April 6th

One of the questions I get asked most frequently from students or aspiring writers (which I still consider myself) is what was my plan. The only plan I've ever had after undergrad was to work on feminist issues and find a way to get my voice heard. Yes, once back in the early days of the internet, when newspapers still flourished (or appeared to be) I dreamed of having a newspaper column. Nowadays I have this blog, a few others where I am welcomed, but also op-eds. Op-ed writing is a science and an art. Which of course means someone needs to teach you the tricks. Lucky for us Chicagoans, The Op-Ed Project has settled in Chicago for long term. The next training session is coming up and if your dream is to have someone hear your voice, then you must go. I plan on stopping by the end of the seminar and sticking around for the cocktail hour (For me that means a beer & snacks).  I hope to see you there!

DETAILS

DATE:: April 6, 2013 (Saturday)

TIME:: Seminar: 10 AM – 5 PM

Cocktail Hour: 5:30 – 7 PM


LOCATION
Medill School at Northwestern University
105 West Adams, Suite 200
Chicago, Illinois 60603


REGISTRATION FEES

Super Early Bird (ends March 6): $325

Early Bird (ends March 27): $375

Regular: $425

See their Pay in Words Scholarship option here.


REGISTER HERE!

26 January 2013

Chicago Abortion Fund's Leadership Group in Ebony!

I am so honored to know Brittany and even more proud of all the work she has done in the reproductive justice movement. She's like a fish to water. Here she is telling her story in Ebony!
When 28-year-old Brittany Mostiller got an abortion in 2008, talking about it with her family was hard enough. She never expected she’d be telling her story in high schools or in the Chicago neighborhoods where she now passes out condoms and information on laws related to reproductive health.

But the organization that helped pay for her procedure, Chicago Abortion Fund (CAF), invited her to join a group of women who meet regularly for peer support and to organize in their communities. Last year, CAF raised $60,000 to help 184 low-income women access second trimester abortions. Four out of five women who receive funds from CAF are of color, said its executive director, Gaylon Alcaraz.

The process of getting these women engaged takes time. After checking in to see what help they need post-abortion – from sexual health information to housing and employment referrals – the organization supports the women in building trust and friendships. That’s the necessary foundation to storytelling.

“I think that women of color want to tell their stories,” Alcaraz said. “There’s no platform. And let you be poor, or let you be fat, or let you be gay. The media is not friendly to that.”

To get around the gatekeepers, CAF creates its own media, including a monthly local TV show called “The A Word.” Mostiller, who is mother to four girls and attends college full-time, has been on the show. At the start, the host introduces herself by saying, “My name is ________, and I’ve had an abortion.”

It was difficult to speak those words on camera early on, Mostiller said. But that’s changed.

“It’s my story. It’s mine to tell,” she told me. “And it’s someone else’s truth also.”

09 January 2013

Chicago Roe Anniversary Events

Three Events planned for the Fortieth Anniversary of Roe V. Wade !!!


Planned Parenthood Illinois is sponsoring a Fortieth Anniversary Celebration on Wednesday, January 23, at 6:30pm at Carnivale, 702 W. Fulton Market, in Chicago. Featuring David Axelrod, former senior advisor to President Obama, and honoring Dawn Clark Netsch for her unrelenting commitment to promoting equality and justice. It’s a benefit. Tickets are $40 and no doubt the food will be delicious. More info at www.ppiaction.org.

The ACLU of Illinois is sponsoring a Fortieth Anniversary of Roe V Wade Lunch and Panel Discussion, on Friday, January 25, from noon to 1:30 at Sidley & Austin, One South Dearborn, in Chicago. Featuring Lorie A. Chaiten, director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Rights Project, and Sylvia M. Neil, lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School and founder of the Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law at Brandeis University. It’s free but RSVP is required. More info at http://www.aclu-il.org/roe-v-wade-40th-anniversary-luncheon/

And the Illinois Choice Action Team is sponsoring a screening of the move Jane: An Abortion Service. It’s on Sunday, January 27, at 4pm, at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum, at 800 South Halsted, in Chicago. Discussion and refreshments will follow the screening, and admission is free. More info at www.ilchoiceactionteam.org.

A fascinating look at a little-known chapter in women’s history, the film tells the story of “Jane”, the Chicago-based women’s health group that performed nearly 12,000 safe abortions between 1969 and 1973. As Jane members describe finding feminism and clients describe finding Jane, archival footage and re-creations mingle to depict how the repression of the early sixties and social movements of the late sixties influenced this unique group.

Event information from the North and Northwest Suburban NOW chapter (www.nwsubnow.org ). Contact them at admin@nnwsubnow.org or contact@nwsubnow.org or 224-565-1500.

EDITED TO ADD:

Disclaimer

This blog is my personal blog and is not reflective of my employer or what I do for them.
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