media alert July 20, 2011
Salim Muwakkil Explores “The Other Chicago” for In These Times: Begins With “Black Chicago Divided”
CHICAGO (July 20, 2011) - In These Times today presents “Black Chicago Divided,” the first in a series of in-depth features from the award-winning journalist Salim Muwakkil.
With this story, Muwakkil begins “The Other Chicago,” an investigation into the lives of those African-American youth who have borne the brunt of the Great Recession. The five-part series will document the struggle of young African-American men, whose rate of unemployment dwarfs that of their white counterparts. In de-industrializing Chicago, a highly segregated city that is one-third black, their plight is particularly acute.
In the first installment of this series, Muwakkil reports that long-smoldering class and generational conflicts are intensifying as persistent racial inequities cause some black Chicago youth to turn their ire toward the city’s established civil rights leaders. He talks to Mark Carter, one of the founders of the militant group Voice Of The Ex-offender (VOTE), who says:
“When we began the struggle for community development, we kept running into roadblocks set up by the very people who were supposed to be helping us. We began to realize that the death and destruction in our community could not have happened without the black leadership elite’s cooperation.”
Not everyone agrees, and Muwakkil’s report gives them a chance to have their say. For example, Mark Allen, associate editor of the South Street Journal and spokesperson for the National Black Wall Street Movement, takes issues with VOTE, arguing that “Angry denunciations tend to alienate people more than bring them together in productive relationships.”
Other individuals Muwakkil talks to include a 17 year-old from the West Side who frankly admits traveling to North Avenue and Oak Street Beach to intimidate and steal, and a black nationalist activist who advocates for concealed carry legislation to be passed so the black community can defend itself against crime.
“The Other Chicago” continues In These Times’ mission to give a platform to voices left out of the mainstream media—in this case, voices from the magazine’s hometown.
“The Other Chicago” is supported by the Local Reporting Initiative of Community News Matters, underwritten by the Chicago Community Trust with help from the McCormick, MacArthur, Knight and Driehaus Foundations, and administered by the Community Media Workshop and The Chicago Reporter.
Salim Muwakkil, an In These Times Senior Editor who has written for the magazine since 1983, is also the host of a radio program on WVON-AM and wrote the text for the book HAROLD: Photographs from the Harold Washington Years. Muwakkil was a co-founder of Pacifica News’ network daily Democracy Now! program in 1995 and co-hosted until 1997. He has also worked as a freelance writer since 1977, publishing articles, book reviews and essays in a wide range of publications. He lectures frequently on issues of race, culture and politics.
Photo by Ryan Williams.
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