Starting over,again. What’s up for the ethnic news media

Since everyone else is writing to-do lists, here’s ours for the black, Latino and immigrant news media.

Unlike the mainstream news media, which treated the arrival of crowds of blacks, and Latinos and others at the voting booths  like meteors from space, we knew it was coming.

But what we need to know now is what does this new coalition mean? How is it going to come together and how will it wield power? Who are the new leaders in your community? What groups are speaking up for what matters in your community

Will there be more Tammy Duckworths representing Asians in US politics? Nationally about 40 percent of Asians consider themselves as Democrats, but over 70 percent voted for Obama.

Will immigrant reform which is driven by the Latino community, but is a core issue for all immigrants, nudge toward a solution?

In 2004 the Latino community drifted slightly towards the Republicans and now it has turned back towards the Democrats. How is that going to change the voice and strategy of Democrats here and across our region?

Remember that there are many stops on way to fixing the problem, and one is the tragedy of families divided by deportation. Read this excellent reporting on Color Lines to understand the problem.

Now watch this video about the mothers stranded at the US border.

Think how you can translate thess stories to communities here. Think how you can update the problems faced by those have fallen short of the requirements for an improved status as laid down by the government for immigrant children without papers.

Getting your foot in the door is only one of the problems immigrant communities face.

The US grants easy visa status to heaps of European nations with tiny communities in the US but it has stiffed the Polish community. Chicago’s Poles have a long and large history and so do Poles across the US. Their numbers grew when Communism collapsed, and all other communities, they deserve the right to better links with a place that carries meaning for them.

Terrible words were tossed around in the election, and intolerance towards Muslims was one of the themes. Now there’s a chance to explain how the American mosaic works, how the bigotry and racism towards Muslims is a vestige of a different time – a time when American society excluded outsiders who did  not fit the mold. But the mold has changed, and there’s less room for intolerance today.

So I can see reporting that talks about how Muslims overcome the taunts of extremists to make this a place they gladly call home.

I don’t think the whole story was told about the terrific effort to get the black vote. It’s a narrative about coming together amid fears of voter suppression, amid generations working together, and about hopes betting on the future. So, now is the time to see whether those hopes will be met.

A letter to the Chicago Defender caught my eye because it talks about the roots of violence in the black community and solutions that have nothing to do with more police. I can see reporting that nails down problems like the one identified in the letter, and telling us what can be done, and what’s in the way of anything happening.

The violence that has engulfed some black and Latino communities is fed by different streams. One of them is  joblessness. As much as has been told about the problem, still more needs to be told to explain why today’s joblessness is different, and why it is more harmful. There are statistics which measure the growth of economic hardship in Chicago’s black and Latino communities, and I would start there, and begin asking what is different today.

So, there are efforts that struggle to deal with the problem. Here’s  a letter from community activist Jeanette Foreman about what some are doing in the black community. I would begin reporting on this tomorrow.

Dear Friends

“Look at the link below and listen to the profoundly important facts in the speaker’s statements and the powerful message in his chants “If we don’t work, nobody works”

The profoundly important issue of Black unemployment and the unfair public jobs issue has finally boiled over into concrete expression and action thanks to the brave actions of our wise, proactive elder, Ed Gardner. It is an issue that has the potential of galvanizing our whole community’s attention, giving an opportunity to organize and connect common interest and energy to mass political actions—- including registering and voting in the coming election. The connection to power to change and enforce the changes to the local candidates for office would only need to be framed as an action option that is connected to the issue.

Mr. Gardner had a reaction that he turned into action to make visible the unfair concrete facts that billions of dollars in city, county and state construction contracts with private companies are going to companies who employ very few, if any African Americans to be part of the contracted labor force. This now visible issue can galvanize .


This is blatantly unfair in the face of the facts that  48% of Chicago’s population is African American . It is even more alarming because the is an economic crisis in the Black community that is far, far worse than in any other population. Black unemployment is at the overall rate of 16% nationally. When viewed by demographic segments of teens, black men with criminal records, or just all black working age men the word Emergency or Tragedy is a more fitting word.


The negative impact of unemployment has been devastating not only to individuals but to the whole Black Community, with the highest foreclosure rate for example. Unemployment is a major contributing factor to the extreme violence that has infected Black neighborhoods with fear and despair.


Isn’t it the legal and moral responsibility of our government(s) to ensure that the millions/billions of contracts using taxpayer dollars and tax breaks being let to private companies to fix our streets, repair schools, and rebuild neighborhoods should include provisions that require them to hire a local workforce that fairly reflects the racial makeup of the city?


If you agree, then, please take action to change the crisis level Black joblessness by standing with Mr Gardner and those of us in the Community who agree that this is a great opportunity to take actions that has an enormous potential to bring real and important changes..


These are 10 action suggestions -feel free to add your own:

  •  Share this video with as many friends, family, organizations, and others and ask them to pass it on;
  • Use your own phone cameras to take the pictures of other construction sites around the city and the area where there are few or no Black workers
  • Post your photos and comments on Occupy Black Chicago Facebook, and other Facebook and web sites of your networks,churches, and especially our economic justice organizations.
  • Label your photos “who’s working and who isn’t- what should we do?
  • Depend on local & neighborhood Black, Progressive ,Public and Youth media & communication outlets to become your trusted means of communication- your Community “Drum”. Post, keep informed and infer-face with such media as: the chicago crusader, wvon radio, Truth b told blog, Wbez, radio,Black Youth Project (BYP), Street Level Youth Media ,SOS – Save Ourselves (face book) etc..
  • Continue to read, look at and interface with Black, and Progressive media  distributors,columnists, and communicator that reflect your neighborhood’s interests and perspectives in order to stay informed. Send them  your comments, opinions and observations
  • join with others to keep “showing and telling ” whats going on in your neighborhood
  • decide what outcomes you want to permanently change the contracts and hiring practices and what actions will best lead to those results.
  • Identify,stand behind and support those politicians and administrators that support your position. Vote out and disengage from those who dont.
  • Stay the course and work with other organizations, block club, churches etc until it happens.

Lets get busy.”

Jeanette Foreman

773 846-8797 o;

Occupy Black Chicago- Occupy Black Media


And lastly,

Here’s a terrific chance for folks in the ethnic news media to learn about making documentaries. It’s a 6 month course that will cost you only $100 and it is with one of the best training grounds in the country. Applications are open now for limited spots, so don’t waste time. 



No Comments

Comments are closed.