Joining with the Lighthouse Church, United Latino Project ( ULP ) hosted a Black and Brown Town Hall on June 6. The town hall, held at Central States SER, 3948 W. 26th St., was a chance to bring the two groups together to talk about shared issues.
Pastor Jamie Frazier of Lighthouse said he feels there's been interest in intersectional events. "People desire both particular space and intersectional space," Frazier said about the events involved in Latino Pride Week. He mentioned Black and Latino citizen's lack of resources and a feeling that the groups were pitted against each other.
"Why are we fighting over resources when we could be creating more resources?," Frazier asked rhetorically.
Eventually, the group of about 25 people split to form Black, Latino and ally breakout groups. After about 15 minutes of discussion, the groups reunited to share their topics of conversation.
Latino community members were concerned about issues relating to gentrification and immigration, and language, including accent discrimination. They also had concerns about stereotypes service providers might have about them.
Black community members had worries about crime and a lack of ownership of businesses and homes. "This got depressing," Frazier said about the Black discussion group. He also had the group create a list of Black assets, some of which included passion, ingenuity and faith.
Both groups were concerned with media representation, lack of resources, stereotypes and CPS schools. Frazier and fellow Town Hall facilitator Karari Olvera then had the whole group discuss personal, interpersonal and systemic ways of improving their condition.
Suggestions for personal improvement involved showing up for events like the town hall, and less interpersonal policing. "Let our guard down with each other," one participant said. The group also suggested spending money in their communities and mentioned the Regal Theatre, bought by a Black developer, as a good example of community investment.
"Interpersonal" in this case referred to organizations like ULP. Participants talked about the importance of lobby days and how groups could potentially lobby together.
"Marriage was successful because it brought a lot of people together," one person said, discussing how organizations collaborated to lobby for same-sex marriage. The need to share resources was highlighted as well, in addition to the need for more organizations with multi-ethnic leaders.
The systemic discussion focused on entities like government. "Everything in this city is downhill," another attendee said. "There's no support for us." The budget crisis was discussed in detail: One participant mentioned DCFS is closing group homes, and looking to move LGBTQ foster youth to LGBTQ households. This discussion touched off a spirited debate about whether going to an alderman during office hours actually does anything. "What can we do to make them keep their word?" another asked. "How can we become visible to these people?"
Frazier concluded by saying he thought there should be a "part two" for this town hall and mentioned that there are plans to hold more in the future. "We sit around and we talk," he said. "What are we gonna do?"