Equity

Syrian Community Network

Historically, Illinois has been a leading state in refugee resettlement, but lately it seems less welcoming to some.

On Feb. 10, 2015, Summer Hamad remembers sitting in her family room in Raleigh, N.C. It was late, a kind of humdrum night when the phone rang. It was her oldest daughter.

"Mom," she said, her voice cracking. "Deah's dead."

Hamad's face turned white. She had just seen Deah Barakat, a 23-year-old with an electric smile and calming presence, at a community fundraiser not too long before. She remembers pointing at him, jokingly telling her 19-year-old daughter, Marjan, that he's cute. "He's taken, Mom," she responded.

In 1996, when Dominque Dawes became the first black woman to win an individual gymnastics medal at the Atlanta Summer Olympics, critics said her look wasn't quite right.

Author Jesmyn Ward won a National Book Award for Salvage the Bones, her gritty and lyrical novel of Hurricane Katrina-era Mississippi. In this essay, as in all of her work, she doesn't mince words.

When the video dropped on Saturday, we galvanized. Cleared our schedules, watched on repeat till our eyes turned red. Got into screaming matches with loved ones about what kind of hot sauce belongs in a #swagbag. Even made preemptive Valentine's Day reservations at Red Lobster, because you never know.

Comedy and race will meet head-on at this year's Academy Awards on Feb. 28. Amid calls to boycott the Oscars over its lack of diversity, the host is one of today's most provocative black comedians. You can just feel the audacious Chris Rock rubbing his hands together in excitement.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Last week, Mattel announced that Barbie is getting a makeover. A whole bunch of them, in fact. Now, 33 new Barbie dolls are available for purchase through the website, in three new body types — petite, tall and curvy — and seven skin tones, 22 eye colors and 14 "face sculpts." We rounded up some sharp thoughts on this news, ranging from what this means for Mattel's bottom line to whether a widely hyped debut of Barbie's new looks is really a step forward.

Poverty rates for the biggest racial minority groups in Illinois are two to three times higher than those for whites.

In my house growing up, the walls of every room — including the bathroom — were decorated with several calendars. (Is this a Chinese-American thing? An immigrant family thing? I've always wondered.)

When the Sundance Film Festival kicked off last month, the subject of diversity was in the air. Just days after the Academy of Motion Pictures rekindled the debate on #OscarsSoWhite, thousands of filmmakers and journalists decamped to Park City, Utah's snowy mountains to discover new indie gems and meet the auteurs of tomorrow.

A Voice You Can Feel

Morris Robinson has the kind of bass voice that reverberates so strongly you feel it in your concert seat. Listening to it, you assume he's been singing all of his life. And he has — but not opera.

Morris Robinson has the kind of bass voice that reverberates so strongly, you feel it in your concert seat. Listening to it, you assume he's been singing all of his life. And he has — but not opera.

When some Western musicians picture life in India, they seem to think you can't turn a corner without someone blasting you in the face with brightly colored powder.

Editor's note: A previous version of this piece was published prematurely and contained a number of errors and mischaracterizations of Tom Gjelten's original reporting. We have corrected this post.

About 40 years ago, when she was 24, Consuelo Hermosillo had an emergency caesarean section at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center. In the new documentary No Más Bebés, she recalls asking her doctor what type of birth control she should use going forward.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

So. Macklemore. I suppose we have to talk about Macklemore.

In families where biological parents are of different races and ethnicities, daughters are more likely to self-identify as "multiracial" than sons, according to a new study in the February issue of the American Sociological Review. This is especially true in families with one black parent and one white parent.

Once in a blue moon*, the film industry makes a decision that leaves us speechless.

Where a mainstream fashion magazine might do a special "black issue," like Italian Vogue back in 2008, or a black lifestyle magazine might run a queer feature, the perspective of queer black folks tends to occupy occasional outskirts in fashion and lifestyle glossies, never the mainstay.

In a high school theater in Arcadia, Calif., Amber Zhang and the rest of the teenage cast of a production of Molière's comedic play The Miser gather in a tight circle.

"Everyone say, 'Hey, hey, hey!' " bellows Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, an instructor at Arroyo Pacific Academy. "Helloooo!"

Zhang, cast as a spunky ingénue, throws her body — and pipes — into the exercise.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Office of State Rep. Tom Morrison

Legislation sponsored by a Northwest suburban lawmaker would require school boards to tell students they could only use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their sex. Males with males. Females with females.

Republican Rep. Tom Morrison of Palatine says he sponsored the legislation to create an “objective standard."

"The vast majority of students are minors, and so it is appropriate that if they’re in school,  we need to make sure that we ensure their privacy within those changing areas.”

Black Lives Matter Champaign-Urbana

It’s one of the largest activist movements since the civil rights era of the 1960s. It’s more than just a hashtag, and it’s about more than police. What's the impact of Black Lives Matter as an organization and a philosophy? And will it be enough to bring about lasting and significant changes in Illinois and across the country? 

Last week saw the unhappy reprise of #OscarSoWhite, a Twitter hashtag that's becoming something of an annual tradition skewering the lack of diversity in nominations for the Academy Awards. Many fans and critics are frustrated — to say the least — that all of this year's nominees in acting categories are white, citing Michael B. Jordan's performance in Creed as one of a handful of expected shoo-ins for recognition.

Office of Rep. Andre Thapedi

Chicago State University won’t have funds to operate by March 1 if  state money is not released, officials there have said.

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