There are days, I admit, when work and life threaten to overwhelm…
It’s difficult to live in Chicago during this historical moment without succumbing to perpetual rage. Some days are defined by an internal battle between righteous anger and impotent rage.
Our mayor was away on a ski trip when the city announced its decision to close 54 schools. This is the largest mass closing of schools in the country’s history. It comes on the heels of Mayor Emanuel closing several mental health clinics in mostly black & brown communities. All of this is happening in a larger context where poverty has been steadily increasing in Chicago, affordable housing is scarce, communities are demanding access to trauma care and we have had a spate of lethal violence. We seem to have entered an era of disaster capitalism in Chicago where the elites manufacture crises as an excuse to privatize the commons.
In light of what feels like an onslaught of negativity, exploitation and oppression, it would be understandable to throw up one’s hands and decide to give up the fight for social justice. However, for me, this is impossible because I am privileged to engage with people (young and old) who believe passionately in our capacity to change our circumstances. These individuals refuse to abandon a generation of young people to the vagaries of capitalism and the punishing state. I am lucky. They give me hope.
Last week, a journalism student named Leah Varjacques who works with the Chicago Bureau interviewed me, Ethan Ucker (co-founder of Circles & Ciphers) and some young men from the Circles & Ciphers program about restorative justice. She just sent me the video and I was reminded again about why the work that I am blessed to participate in is such an important antidote to the current orchestrated assault that we are experiencing in this city. We are not a city of marauding, murderous black and brown people who need the National Guard to impose order on our “lawless” neighborhoods. We are not lazy, pathetic moochers who are bankrupting the coffers of the city. There is resilience, love, and hope in Chicago.
I hope that you will take 5 minutes to watch the video and be reminded that resistance exists and that it will continue.
restoring hope from Leah Varjacques on Vimeo.
[Special note: Those who know me will recognize that I appear on camera in this video. This is not something that I like to do and I avoid this at all costs. However, I feel so strongly that the good work that we are doing in Chicago needs to have a broader platform that I sucked it up this time.]