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Cities in Revolt: Chicago

By David Stovall

Educator and activist David Stovall shares his remarks from a plenary session at the With/Out ¿Borders? conference this past September. This is the second piece in a three-part series on “Cities in Revolt.”

To every person in Detroit who has ever had their water services terminated, to every person in New Orleans who weathered the storm called Katrina, to every family in Chicago that had a child in one of the 49 schools closed last spring, to every family that lives under constant fear of immigration raids in California, Texas, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado, to the families that have lived in Ferguson, Missouri under an apartheid state before Mike Brown’s death: we must understand this political moment as one that is not coincidental, unfortunate or a general instance of happenstance. Instead, it should be understood as a moment where the lives of First Nations (the only Indigenous), Black, Latin@, Arab, and Southeast Asian are deemed disposable in their respective locales.

Environmental Justice is Racial Justice: A Neighborhood Perspective

By Antonio R. López, Ph.D.

Editor’s note: The police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the epidemic of violence against Black and Brown youth in Chicago and nationally points to the urgent need for a more holistic understanding of environmental justice. Here, Antonio Lopez, Executive Director of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, offers a critical analysis of the intersection of race and environment in the Little Village community in Chicago.  

Little Village is a thriving barrio on the southwest side of Chicago. Children from this predominantly Mexican neighborhood are raised in a community saturated with beautiful histories of migration and resiliency. A hunger strike waged by local activists resulted in the construction of a social justice high school in Little Village. Elementary schools are named after Emiliano Zapata and a local Chicana activist, Maria Saucedo, and the main business avenue, 26th street, was even dedicated to Los Tigres Del Norte, a a norteño-band ensemble based out of San Jose, California, with origins in Mexico.

Complex and colorful murals in Little Village capture oppositional histories and showcase the artistic talent of the neighborhood. The streets are always alive with vendors and the shrieking sounds of kids playing on the tightly packed sidewalks.  Working in the community I am reminded of Segundo Barrio and other historic barrios where border crossers somehow survived Amerika and managed to build communities that nurtured several generations. Though far from the Mexico of their ancestors, children raised in Little Village are in touch with their roots – there is a beauty in the lack of confusion.

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