Debunking the Chicago Media's Myths About Black Teens

Every time we turn on the news, the Chicago media (typically) shows the worst of Black teens and young adults. For Generation Z, our local news reporters can’t see “the ‘hood” for the ratings. It’s all sensational reporting designed to promote fear-mongering of black juveniles. For years, I was guilty of judging those same young people- until I realized that I used to be one of them.

CLEVER AS A “FOX” NEWS

Being a lifelong resident, I’ve seen that Chicago is liberal on the outside- but conservative on the inside. Don’t let our voting patterns fool you; this city still has a lot of racism being practiced by whites of all political parties. That’s not an opinion; that’s an immutable fact. Equity and diversity are just buzz words in most parts of our city. Our “allies” say that they care but rarely back up their words with actions. In my opinion, it’s the main reason why Sunday’s gathering in the Loop occurred.

When I was growing up, the Taste of Chicago was the premiere summer event held in Grant Park. Millions of people came and there weren’t usually problems until the late 2000s. In fact, I was there that night in July 2008 when a shooting occurred at the Taste. Since then, the City has shortened the festival and changed the start date (until after the 4th). Still, it hasn’t addressed the growing racial and socioeconomic inequities going on in this city.

DEBUNKING THE MYTHS

Most black teens in this city are good kids. As a former sub for Chicago Public Schools, I know this as a fact. I’ve taught at over 30 schools and some of my best students come from the worst neighborhoods. Yet, the “bad” students tend to be products of their environments. It’s not their responsibility to be born to the right parents. Instead, it is our duty to provide hope and resources from them to build appropriate social skills. When we fail to do that, their “idle minds” cause them to turn Chicago’s elite neighborhoods into the Devil’s playground.

Young people don’t have places where they can gather without the police shutting it down. On the South and West Sides, they can’t gather for pop-up block parties without the police shutting it down. So, they head downtown to a larger space that it designed for large crowds. Even then, they get turned away. However, the media won’t tell you that part of the story because that doesn’t fit the narrative.

CREATING A NEW NARRATIVE

We should have more events downtown for youth. Chicago Public Schools should partner with CPD and private security firms to create a safe environment for our kids to have fun. This is their city, too. They have been pushed away from the Water Tower, pushed back on to the CTA Red Line Trains, and pushed out of activities that white Chicagoans enjoy.

As Labor Day approaches, Chicago’s DCASE (Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events) should partner with Kids Off The Block, My Block, My Hood, My City, and Good Kids, Mad City to create events downtown to show youngsters the RIGHT WAY to enjoy our beautiful city. Instead of being criminalized, they deserve a little more hospitality. Take off the handcuffs and give them a helping hand.

You wouldn’t do white kids like this. Treat our kids with the same love and respect and you will get it right back.

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