Friday, March 13, 2015

Change is in the air in Chicago

You won't see a word about this in today's Trib or Sun-Times. But the Logan Square auditorium was packed last night. The mood, electric. It was in this same room a few months ago that we celebrated the election of Rep. Will Guzzardi and dealt a major blow to the  Emanuel/Daley/Madigan/Burke/Barrios/Mell... machine (or what's left of it). It was in this same ward, at the Norwegian Church across the street in 1983 that I remember that same energy and sense of power and unity as the crowd overflowed out onto the boulevard to hear candidate Harold Washington drive another nail into the old machine's coffin.

In the room last night, you could feel the power of a new movement for change. But last night's crowd also told a different story, one about the changes taking place in the make-up of our community and our city. The cheering crowd looked and sounded a bit different than the one at Guzzardi's rally and certainly than the one at the Harold rally 4 decades ago. So did the group of progressive candidates on stage. The both were largely Latino, including a 26-year-old newly-elected alderman in the 35th Ward, Carlos Rosa. Some African-American representation would have even made it better.

Carlos had not only handily defeated his machine rival a few weeks ago, but helped carry the ward for Chuy Garcia over Rahm Emanuel. Chuy got with 57% of the vote in the war. It reflected the the city's changing demographics and the emerging Mexican plurality which is largely under-counted by the pollsters (in case you're moaning over this morning's Tribune poll). It also holds the potential for a new, progressive rainbow coalition, the likes of which we haven't seen in the city since the Harold days. It was another hopeful sign that whether Rahm wins or loses this race, Chicago politics will never be the same.

Good riddance.

Chuy hit another home run with his speech last night, staying on his Chicago as tale-of-two-cities message. He's on a roll, even while up against tremendous odds and the power of LaSalle St. big money. I can't wait for Monday's face-to-face debate with the Little Emperor.

And the Racist Drivel of the Week Award once again goes to former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani for these pearls of wisdom: I wish President Obama were more like Bill Cosby and Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson Should Be 'Commended' For Shooting Michael Brown. Definitely GOP presidential timber. Or at least, a convention keynoter.

But pointing out and hammering the racists like Giuliani or the OU frat boys, while necessary, is too easy writes Zak Cheney-Rice at Identities.Mic.
The backlash against SAE was predictably swift: The frat's national headquarters shut down their Oklahoma chapter, while University of Oklahoma president David Boren severed all school ties with the organization. "You are disgraceful," he told its members in a highly publicized statement. What he didn't do was talk about racism.
Racism is bigger than a video. Racism is the legacy of being "the only national fraternity founded in the antebellum South," with a Civil War-era membership class of 400, of whom 369 fought for the Confederacy. Racism is a school housing an organization with a documented history of racial abuse; SAE chapters in St. Louis, Memphis, Clemson, South Carolina and elsewhere have all been embroiled in racism controversies. Racism is the truth behind the frat brother's song, that there probably never was a "nig**r" at SAE, or at least none in significant numbers.

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