Protests, talk about racial injustice and trauma dominate headlines in suburbs
An emotionally charged week punctuated by #BlackLivesMatter protests, rallies and unrest across the suburbs against police brutality and systemic racism has come to a close, but the rallying cry of many calling for justice persists.
The May 25 death of George Floyd after a Minnesota police officer knelt on his neck "should shock the moral consciousness of every member of our society," wrote Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg -- the first black sheriff in the suburbs and one of only six in Illinois history -- a sentiment echoed by other suburban law enforcement leaders.
Show of solidarity:
Protesters took to the streets in a show of solidarity for Floyd in numerous suburbs from Arlington Heights to Wheaton. Though mostly peaceful, some protests resulted in violence, looting and vandalism forcing curfews in some towns, including Aurora, Batavia, Downers Grove, Elmhurst and Naperville.
People of all ages, backgrounds and races have come out to support black communities reeling from the murder of another unarmed black man by police.
"It's just enough is enough," said Destiny Sander, 17, of Arlington Heights, who joined the protest in that town. "It means so much to me that so many people that don't look like me are out here, as well, because it really comes from everyone, not just black people and not just white people."
From dining table conversations and town halls held by elected officials and community leaders to sermons at suburban mosques that reopened Friday to limited crowds, racism is the hot topic of the day.
And it's not a problem unique to white culture, said Khalid Herrington, who is black and a resident scholar and imam (prayer leader) at Masjid Al Huda in Schaumburg, during his Friday sermon.
"It is a human problem," said Herrington, urging community members to look within and take individual responsibility toward fighting the ills of racism.
"We've been working on this. ... Long after that emotional fervor is spent, we will still be here," Herrington said about working with local elected officials and police chiefs.
The pain is acute for the black students, parents and employees of Aurora-based Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy and for the entire school community, President José Torres said.
The ethnicity of the students is 41.7% Asian, 35.4% white, 8.9% Latino, 8.1% black and 5.9% two or more races.
"Having just ended our academic year, I will be asking our families to gather around the kitchen table and explore their emotions in light of this tragedy and how they can respond," said Torres, of Elgin, a Puerto Rican of African descent. "I will be asking our staff to reflect on this event and on how they can be even more sensitive to the trauma" and its impact on the school community.
Black lives talks:
Elgin Community College's Multicultural And Global Initiatives Committee (MAGIC) is launching a Black Lives Matter series of virtual conversations with ECC police officers, employees, students and community members. A discussion on "Policing in the U.S." starts at 2 p.m. Wednesday via Zoom video conferencing. For details, visit ECC's Facebook event page.
Learning on the go:
The Elgin Partnership for Early Learning will offer literacy drop-in events in community parks and playgrounds this summer. The group provides storytime and literacy resources to at-risk families, mostly Latino, targeting the birth-to-5 population.
"It's going to be more learning on the go," Executive Director Amber Peters said.
Volunteers will be handing out bags of bilingual materials, food, diapers and wipes in four predominantly Latino and black neighborhoods -- Cornerstone, Buena Vista and Hanover Township Izaak Walton Center, all in Elgin, and a site in Streamwood.
Distribution details are still being worked out and will be posted to the internet at elginpartnership.org.
"We are planning on preparing 200 bags a week to be given out, 50 bags per site," Peters said. "If we see there is more need, then we will quickly adjust."
Distribution will begin the third week in June for six weeks. The effort is in partnership with the Alignment Collaborative for Education, Elgin Area School District U-46 and YWCA of Elgin.
U-46 recognizes volunteer:
Nicole Martinez, a parent volunteer at Glenbrook Elementary School in Streamwood, received this year's Elgin Area School District U-46 Helping Hands Award.
Martinez has been a volunteer at the school for more than five years serving as president of its parent-teacher organization, on the School Improvement Planning team and various committees of the U-46 Citizens' Advisory Council. She launched the school's first parent/princess dance for students without fathers or who come from nontraditional families, allowing them to be accompanied by any adult caregivers.
"I'm really big on inclusivity," said Martinez, a Latina who herself was a single parent for six years. "We don't care if it is grandmas, grandpas, two mothers, two fathers ... the princess could be a male or female child. We don't want any child to feel like you are not welcome. We don't specify gender."
• Share stories, news and happenings from the suburban mosaic with Madhu Krishnamurthy at firstname.lastname@example.org.