Recently, the New York Times published an article that spoke to the deep divides within the City of Chicago.
Their findings were nothing really new, Chicago is and always has been known as a city that is separated by class, race, and more. However, the stories in the piece resonate so well that it is time that this city stands up and does something about it.
As cops harm the people they are assigned to protect, as a mayor lets a school system crumble and seems not to care, as corruption persists in the state of Illinois in general it is becoming more and more apparent every single day that change is needed.
Calling for these changes is not even close to what could be seen as calling for idealism in a non-ideal world. These changes are necessary for the existence of our city to continue on.
As a new generation turns into adults, they have the chance to make sure their voices are heard. And it is clear that they are learning to do exactly that.
Following the release of the video of former Chicago cop Jason van Dyke shooting Laquan McDonald sixteen times, protests broke out throughout the city.
Now, this is what the national idea of Chicago should look like.
This fair city should not be defined by the violence, but rather by those who are trying so hard to put an end to it.
For every shooting, there are countless people working to stop it from happening again. For every school that is being closed, there are a number of families fighting for it to remain open.
Activism is key to fix what is a broken Chicago and the voices of these activists should be what defines it in a national sphere, not the data on how many people were shot here this past weekend.
But it cannot be the only thing that Chicagoans rely on for real change to actually happen.
Unfortunately, the people of the city had a chance to oust Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2014.
His opponent Chuy Garcia was a progressive candidate that inspired many in the city, alas, it was not enough and Rahm was given yet another term.
While there is nothing wrong with aligning with Mayor Emanuel’s personal political ideology, he himself is alienating and such a strong part of the Democratic Machine in Chicago and the rest of Illinois as a whole that he presents harm to the city the longer the constituents allow for him to continue being Mayor.
While there are still plenty of people who benefit from the tactics of the current mayor, there are just as many whose very lives falter because of his brash decisions.
He is known around politics to be an abrasive man and that style of leadership does not suit Chicago and its current struggles.
The racism that the New York Times reported on; that people of color have felt while living in Chicago of course will not be fixed by a change in mayor, but electing someone with a progressive mission like that of Chuy Garcia’s will undoubtedly help begin to right the wrongs that have plagued the city for so long.
The violence too will not cease until the core problems of unequal opportunity are fixed and it is clear that the Chicago Democratic Machine has no one willing to take on the challenge of seeing that change.
Thus, the power lies within the people to make the change.
If more and more citizens begin to stand up, protest, and go out and vote to make changes for the better, then there will finally be hope for this city.
Until then, when you hear of the violence that goes on in Chicago every week, stop and remember that is does not and should not define the lives of the people here and that for every shooting there are a great number of people giving their best effort to help make it stop.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.
Cover Photo Credit: vxla/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)