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We are moving outta here! Why are Black folks leaving in higher numbers than any other groups from the Chicago city limits? The rising taxes and affordable housing options are no longer affordable. We’re not talking about only those that are in the low-income tax bracket, but also the working to middle class residents who are being forced out by increased property taxes and higher rents. The neighborhoods that are most affected are predominately Black communities where certain areas on the West Side and South Side are becoming a “land grab” for real estate developers. We’re seeing this currently with the Woodlawn and South Shore community since The Obama Presidential Library announced Jackson Park will be the “chosen” location.

Have you noticed more non-Black residents walking their dogs or jogging casually along the streets of Bronzeville and Washington Park? We’re not knocking the diversity of our city but we are concerned about neighborhoods that have a long, rich cultural history of maintaining a hold on generational security and wealth—through property ownership.

Gentrification may seem like a cozy blanket in the winter for some property owners who’ve invested in their inner-city parcels of land while they reside in the suburbs, but for thousands of residents who call Chicago their home—it’s depressing. Our Latino neighbors in Humboldt Park and Pilsen are experiencing the same concerns as they are gradually squeezed out by six-story condos sticking out like sore thumbs and reduced parking spaces—gobbled up by additional cars.

So, we are not surprised by the U.S. Census report that Chicago lost close to 8,600 residents in the last year and will lose its third market status to the growing Houston, Texas. What does this mean for our Black voice that has rang so strong for the past 70 years as the leading city in cultivating Black business owners, community activists, educators, judicial and government leaders? Our presence in city, county and state government is steadily decreasing and jobs that were fought for by our Black leaders, are no longer balanced or fair. We must do better for our people—across the board.

What Had Happened Was…

Two years and no balanced state budget has been passed. The Illinois House Senate pushed through a budget at last week’s meeting in Springfield but regardless of the House supporting the budget—Gov. Rauner will not sign off. Here we go again–we’re going on three years without a budget. Think about how many seniors with reduced homecare provision and struggling parents dealing with either long-awaited childcare credit approval or none at all. And think about the many social service programs that have been slashed or had to shut down altogether.

As the gubernatorial race continues to heat up on the Democratic side, the leading candidates are J.B. Pritzker and Chris Kennedy. No diss to Alderman Ameya Pawar and State Senator Daniel Bliss, but this will be the most expensive governor’s race in Illinois history. Deep pockets are a must to keep up with the Rauner camp. Speaking of keeping up, word is Chris Kennedy turned down speaking with a group of “powerful” and “influential” Northshore working mothers because they weren’t his “core” audience. Wow…interesting.

However, Pritzker did attend the group’s annual event where they boost 6,000+ members and impressed this influential and diverse group of professional moms.

Community activist, Tio Hardiman

Meanwhile, some community activists are feeling a little slighted by the Pritzker camp “gate keepers.” What are gate keepers? They are unofficial “official” advisors that give the candidate the impression they hold the “key” to leading a particular group of people to the polls. No one else can go to the candidate without going through them first. Campaigns have been lost because some gate keepers represent a small percentage of the community they claim they serve. Word to the wise—gate keepers don’t have much to lose but the person they guard does. Look for former Ceasefire Executive Director Tio Hardiman to throw his hat in the governor’s race for the second time. Some feel concerns for Chicago’s escalating violence is not a major priority for the current agenda. On the other hand, our mainstream newsies across town has in their possession FBI recordings between the billionaire and former Gov. Blagoveich discussing a possible interest in the Illinois Treasurer’s office.

In an official statement from the J.B. Pritzker campaign: “Throughout JB’s life he’s had an interest in serving the people of Illinois and that’s exactly what he expressed when discussing a potential opening in the Treasurer’s office. In fact, when the Governor brings up whether JB would be interested in being appointed to the Senate, on multiple occasions JB expresses he is not and moves away from the type of conversation that landed Rod Blagojevich in prison,” said Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Galia Slayen.

More CPS School Changes?

On the education front, we are hearing South Loop Elementary may be a possible victim of gentrification. As the South Loop community becomes more residential, parents are concerned about not having a CPS high school. The idea of sending their kids to nearby Dunbar Academy High School or Philips Academy High School is just too scary so a proposal of building a new $60 million high school to accommodate their concerns may shut down South Loop Elementary. The possibility of changes at the National Teachers Academy will also be affected if certain parents have their way.

This past Memorial Day weekend was the launch of Chicago summer activities for families and outdoor fun. The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) hosted a fun Chicago House Music party at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park on Saturday. The free event attracted over 20,000 attendees with a stellar line-up of Chicago House music DJs and singers.

DJ Terry Hunter moves the crowd at the Chicago House Party in Millenium Park. PHOTO: Mary L. Datcher

Great Talent Plagued By Sound Problems

This year, the city included more DJs to the day’s line-up by opening the large outdoor tent, west of the pavilion lawn where close to 1,000 people danced to the music. Shout outs to the Queens of HouseFirst Lady, DJ Alicia and Socket who had the tent on blast. Great vibrations and energy throughout the day.

DJs Terry Hunter, Pierre, Steve ‘Miggedy’ Maestro and Maurice Joshua had great sets trying to keep the crowd on their feet–playing to 20,000 attendees in Millenium Park. People were looking forward to the Legendary House All-stars, which featured various singers but was plagued by sound problems with fading onstage monitors and mic issues. At times, you can tell certain vocalists were having a problem with the band keeping up or just couldn’t hear themselves.

It’s unfortunate because the line-up included all great performers. Nonetheless, the good showmanship of awesome vocalists– Faith Howard, Andrea Love, Lorenzo Owens and Jameisha Trice— kept the party going. Loved the Latin flavors and percussionists who added diversity to the performances—hopefully next year we will see more of this and less sound and band difficulties. I salute the efforts by DJ Joe Smooth, Lady Maestro and host Dana Divine, who has done an extraordinary job the past two years.

Illinois State Senator, Mattie Hunter

Birthday Shout-outs

Happy belated birthday shout-outs to the ultimate househead Michelle Allen-Marsh on May 30. Journalist and former Ebony editor-in-chief Kyra Kyles; Sickle cell anemia advocate Robert Mackey III; and Chicago native to NYC transplant DJ Larry Heard on May 31. Judge of the First Municipal District of State of Illinois’ Circuit Court of Cook County Freddrenna Lyle; Illinois State Senator Mattie Hunter; music executive Jerrold Thompson and DJ Mark Grant celebrate on June 1. Public relations maven Deborah Farmer and The Chicago Defender’s publisher and our fearless leader Frances Jackson on June 2.

Chicago House legend Lidell Townsell and everyone’s favorite soundman Santee Shannon crank up the sounds on June 4. Music curator Rob McKay and former Polygram Records executive Wayne Lewis on June 6.

Bottled Blonde Dress Code Restrictions. Photo: Sean Mac

Is It Racism or Classy Service?

A Chicago River North restaurant and lounge, the Bottled Blonde located at 504 N. Wells got slammed on social media for their strict and lengthy dress code restrictions. The sign was originally posted by DJ Sean Mac on his facebook page and has since gone viral. This is approach to keeping ‘certain’ standards ‘light’ hearted in the more tourist sections of town is not new as more white owned establishments have been pressured by its high-rise residents, and CPD officials to limit hosting Black and Brown promoter driven events. Someone at the Bottled Blonde took a great deal of time and effort to identify what is ‘appropriate’ and what’s not, based on dress attire. You be the judge.

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