“Why is Chicago Racist?” Zine

Later this month, for the second year, I will be spending a week touring parts of Chicago with a group of Urban Geography graduate students from the University of Utrecht! Last year, I took them on a walking tour of Uptown and brought them to my colleagues doing great community development work in Pullman, West Town, and elsewhere. But given that some have never been to America, let alone Chicago, I wanted to give this new cohort of young people additional context for what is so painfully obvious to outsiders but often glossed over by its residents: the galling racism that underpins Chicago’s well-studied segregation.

Moreso, I wanted to give these bright students a critical lens to see racism, to learn about its sordid history, and to give ideas or tools on tackling it back home. I didn’t want them to walk away feeling like this is a uniquely Chicago problem, although I also wanted to be explicit in how deep in our city’s roots this cancer lies. Altogether it was a tall order and, like the segregation zine beforehand, posing it as a question helped wrangle an amorphous beast onto the page. The result touches on how inequities in the built environment, police violence, and a handful of lies maintain exclusionary systems that each of us are embedded in. Again, the intent is to educate and position racism as a deliberate choice versus something that is inviolable. Contact me if you’d like one!