I woke up early yesterday. I had even less than my regular four hours of sleep. I was determined to attend the Chicago Board of Education meeting and then to participate in two rallies for education justice and police accountability.
It turns out that I missed the rallies. We waited nearly two & a half hours for the public comment section of the Board meeting to begin. It is excruciating to quietly sit in uncomfortable chairs while blatant falsehoods are offered without challenge.
I thought about leaving early without making my statement but I am accountable to a group of people who have been working on the issue of school discipline data transparency for almost two years now. So I gritted my teeth and stayed put.
Meanwhile outside of the Board meeting, students, parents, educators, and community members were protesting CPS’s closing of schools and the proposed deep budget cuts for the remaining ones. Protesters then marched to City Hall to demand an elected school board. Make no mistake about it, young people were at the forefront of the protests. Students had called on their peers to boycott school and dozens of young people responded by taking to the streets.
Yesterday, hundreds of people also marched to demand an independent police accountability board. Chicago is well known for our history of police violence and torture. The same neighborhoods where schools have closed also contend with aggressive overpolicing. The young people who live in these communities regularly speak out about their contentious & oppressive interactions with cops. So it makes sense that these rallies would intersect since the issues are interconnected.
The day before, on Tuesday, parents, students and community members marched from the site of the bulldozed Whittier Elementary school fieldhouse known as “La Casita” to Alderman Danny Solis’s office. Last weekend, I wrote a post about how CPS demolished La Casita without warning community members after having promised to renovate the community center and library. Protesters were demanding that CPS and Alderman Solis “use the $556,000 in TIF and state funds allocated for the renovation of La Casita for rebuilding the field house to be used as a school library and educational/community space (Rhee, 8/27/13).”
Something is happening in Chicago. As we find ourselves increasingly under assault by the forces of neoliberalism and the corporate elites, I have noticed an increase in resistance from community members across the city. Many of the people leading the charge are young and that’s encouraging. By necessity, many of us are seeking each other out to pool our resources and forge new relationships. As a result, we’ve been required to BE intersectional rather than to theorize intersectionality.
I’ve lived in Chicago since 1995. In all of my years here, I’ve never received more invitations from different people and organizations to build coalitions or share resources than in the past two. Rahm Emanuel has unleashed energy that still feels inchoate but is real. Something is definitely happening in Chicago…