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Hello again! Lareka Renee here, a part of Billy Dec‘s intern team at Rockit Ranch. I wanted to share with you my thoughts and opinions of CNN’s Original series Chicagoland, ​which also features Billy! Enjoy!

Robert Spicer, the Culture and Climate Specialist at Christian Fenger Academy High School, shares his thoughts on Chicago kids being scared to walk to school. You can help Robert, Billy, Principal Liz Dozier, and Fenger alum Juanita Jordan keep Fenger safe through their fundraiser.

ChicagolandCNN’s original series Chicagoland has showcased some of the many trials and triumphs of the Windy City. We’ve been able to see the culture and entertainment of this extraordinary place and the great pride that is within the individuals whom live here. From the art and diversity to sports and politics, we’ve gotten a great glimpse of what it’s like to be a Chicagoan. However most of us are already familiar with these things: what Chicagoland has finally offered to the rest of nation are the other realities of this all-American city. The show blatantly yet educationally describes the hardships of being a young minority in Chicago’s inner city.

Chicagoland has illustrated to us so vividly the rapidly growing gang and youth violence in addition to the struggling education system, the fight for street territory, and senseless murders of innocent children and adults alike. The wars found right here in the streets of Chicago are under multiple theories of what has brought this city to such a turmoil: gentrification, poverty, oppression, unequal education, and underdeveloped resources are all precisely valid reasons behind the crimes committed and the poor state of the neighborhoods and people. Nonetheless, what I wish Chicagoland offered viewers were more of the organizations and communities of people combating the crime, unacceptable education levels, and changing laws for the children giving them a normal chance at life, like the organization Lost Boyz Inc., for example.

Lost Boyz Inc.Lost Boyz Inc. was founded in 2008 by activist LaVonté Stewart whose vision was to create a safe haven for poverty stricken, at risk youth, with the goal to keep them occupied and out of trouble or harm’s way. Most of the participant children come from very humbled backgrounds without much to look forward to from day to day; Lost Boyz Inc. offers a reason to look forward. Their founding principles rely in revitalizing organized sports to teach discipline, character, and sportsmanship as well as promoting public safety and stimulating the economy. The organization is producing good active leaders from the young boys who join. With almost six years of establishment, Lost Boyz Inc. now has a plethora of sponsors who believe that change will happen by molding our leaders of tomorrow now.

“My son was headed down a path of destruction, I couldn’t do too much with him, the streets had a very strong hold. Thanks to Lost Boyz’s mentorship, Corey quit the gang, graduated 8th grade with a B average and got accepted with a baseball scholarship to high school.”
– Olivia S.

Black Youth ProjectMuch like Lost Boyz Inc., the Black Youth Project (BYP) is an online platform that aims to education, empower, and battle the violence of Chicago while clarifying the misconceptions of the people. Their organization is based upon 3 major concepts:

  • Knowledge. The site produces research about the lives and experience of black Chicago youth as it relates to their civil and social engagement.
  • Voice. BYP offers an outlet for black youth’s social, political, and artistic expression without inhibitions or censorship. They are able to voice thoughts, feelings and concerns about the issues that plague or surround them.
  • Action. With culturally informed data, the Black Youth Project targets black Chicago youth and their allies to begin being the change the city needs.

The site also offers what they refer to as the “BYP 100,” made up of 100 black activists around the country summoned by the Black Youth Project to propel communities of color forward.

There are an array of big and small organizations such as the ones discussed here, and it’s important that we all stay aware of not only the beautiful things the City of Chicago offers us, but the side of Chicago not broadcasted in mainstream media.

You can watch clips and episodes of CNN’s Chicagoland here.

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