Category Archives: Racism

The Case for Reparations: Champaign County

According to the Descendants Truth and Reconciliation Foundation, Black people in America own 10 cents of wealth for every dollar a white person owns, have lower life expectancies and higher unemployment, will earn $1 million less during their lifetimes, are … Continue reading

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A Road Map for Repairing the Harm: The History of Racially Restrictive Covenants

Can you imagine, as a resident of Champaign County, being told you aren’t allowed to live in a neighborhood because you’re Black? By today’s standards, such blatant racism would be met with disgust and rejection—at least by the majority of … Continue reading

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FirstFollowers: Using Participatory Action Research to Make Change in Our Community

FirstFollowers has a tradition of doing participatory action research at Champaign-Urbana Days, the premier outdoor summer event aimed primarily at the Black community. Participatory Action Research (often called PAR) aims to gather data and information, not just for publication but … Continue reading

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A “Pattern of Problematic Conduct”: Urbana Officer Tests Police Accountability (Shortened Print Version)

This article originally appeared at WILL/Illinois Public Media on July 5, 2023. Reprinted with permission. It has been edited for space and style. See the full version here. “I had a big goose egg on my forehead,” Tianna Morrow recalled, … Continue reading

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A “Pattern of Problematic Conduct”: Urbana Officer Tests Police Accountability (Full Version)

This story is part of a partnership, focusing on police misconduct in Champaign County, between the Champaign-Urbana Civic Police Data Project of the Invisible Institute, a Chicago-based nonprofit public accountability journalism organization, and Illinois Public Media. This investigation was supported … Continue reading

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Code Blue: Suffering through DWB in Rantoul

This essay, submitted to the Rantoul Press in 2009, was never published. The author shares it now to give context to community concerns with policing in Rantoul in the wake of recent police shootings of young Black men. “You were … Continue reading

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Growing Up “Unlucky”: Putting a Human Face on Bureau of Labor Statistics

Numerous options for employment abound in our small metropolitan area nestled amid the farmland of eastern central Illinois. From warehouses to food establishments to car repair shops, job seekers have many a choice for offering their time and effort. Yet, … Continue reading

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Central Illinois Police Training for Mental Health Cases Questioned — Print Version

Tisha Bryson has been shackled, hospitalized, and shoved to the ground by Champaign-area police while experiencing a mental health crisis more times than she can count. “I try not to hold grudges,” said Bryson, of Hammond. “But some of the … Continue reading

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Central Illinois Police Training for Mental Health Cases Questioned — Full Version

Tisha Bryson has been shackled, hospitalized and shoved to the ground by central Illinois law enforcement officers while experiencing a mental health crisis more times than she can count. “I try not to hold grudges,” Bryson said, a resident of … Continue reading

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Why I Called Herschel Walker Coonish: The Right of Black People to Call Out their Traitors

Editors’ Note: This article has been held until after the Georgia runoff election so there would be no suggestion of a political endorsement. Since Donald Trump’s incursion into US politics in 2015, deprecation and intimidation have become pervasive. Trump and … Continue reading

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How The Issue of Representation Impacts Central Illinois

The issue of unequal representation of cultures has plagued the nation since its birth, often resulting in the perversion of people’s natural rights. In central Illinois, it extends that perversion through aggressive discrimination. Although minorities have seen more representation on … Continue reading

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Donald Trump v. Shamar Betts

I, Shamar Betts, incited a riot through a Facebook post encouraging my people to join alongside the rest of the world in an attempt to express our feelings on the tragic death of George Floyd in May of 2020. Although … Continue reading

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Juneteenth Freedom Day

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19 that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with … Continue reading

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The Great De-Centering: The World after Ukraine

The Ukraine war is a turning point in history, but not the one you might be expecting. It won’t revive the Cold War. It won’t determine the survival of the Liberal World Order (whatever that is). And most decidedly, it … Continue reading

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Shamar Betts Case Moves to Federal Appeals Court

On April 8, the case of Urbana resident Shamar Betts moved to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Betts was arrested in June, 2020 in the midst of a national crackdown on protests against the murder … Continue reading

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Passing: Can One Ever “Pass”?

I recently watched one of the most beautiful and perhaps also one of the most significant movies I have seen in a long time. Passing, based on a 1929 novel by the Harlem Renaissance author Nella Larson (1891–1964), is a … Continue reading

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Urbana’s Long Search for Traffic-Stop Equity

In 2004 the State of Illinois required all law enforcement agencies to report their annual traffic stop data to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). The Urbana Police Department’s (UPD) data shows they have enforced traffic laws inequitably every year … Continue reading

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What’s Understood Need Not Be Explained

I’m curious to know, as a reading eye and listening ear, what are you expecting to hear from me? That the feds were somehow wrong, and Shamar was right? Or that he was justified in putting out some call to … Continue reading

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The Unacknowledged and Ongoing Genocide: Violence against African Americans

I began writing this reflection on Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 2021, a national holiday created by President Lincoln in the hopes of healing the wounds following the Civil War. Yet for many the wounds still run deep. One of the … Continue reading

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Police Brutality is Not Uniquely American: Try France

While we are rightly preoccupied with abuse by the police in the United States, almost no Americans know anything about policing and justice in other countries. France offers a particularly interesting case. In January, six nongovernmental organizations, including Amnesty International … Continue reading

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