Local News, Opinion

Page 2: Looking ahead after a decade of local news

June 9 will be the 10th anniversary of the Chronicle’s first published story. We figure this is a good time to think through the state of local news in H-F and see how to keep things going.

We’ll be out in the community more than usual this year. We hope to have a table at various community events.

We’ll be asking for your ideas about how we can continue to improve our service to the community and how we can work together to make the Chronicle sustainable into the future. How can we help promote local democracy?

Please come talk with us when you see the Chronicle banner.


Live music springs forth

The Homewood Arts Council hosted a performance March 23 by Miles Nielsen with Mark Watson opening for him at Izaak Walton Nature Preserve.

Then in April, Trail Mix Productions will keep the music going with three spring concerts.
The first, at 7 p.m. on April 5, features four local acts — Butterfield Creek, Doug Raffety, the Uh Ohs and the Six of Spades. Tickets will be available at the door.

The second concert will be a performance by by Phoebe Hunt at the Rock Shop, 18019 Dixie Highway, on April 18.

Finally, on April 26, Nellie McKay will perform at Thornton Distillery, 400 E. Margaret St. in Thornton.
Tickets for the April 18 and April 26 shows are available at trailmixmusic.org.

Liv Well bugs out (but will be back)

We’ve been asking everyone to save the date of June 8 for the Liv Well Fest, a big health and wellness event co-sponsored by Bionic Content, Serendipity Yoga & Wellness Studio and the Chronicle.

However, it looks like the once-a-generation cicada hatching, a blizzard of bugs, could still be with us in early June. The organizing team thought a few million additional guests might complicate the event so we’ve decided to reconfigure the plan and postpone the launch.

Once a new plan is firmed up, we’ll post Save the Date For Real information.

Antiracism library

This month’s cover feature is our annual Health & Wellness Guide, so I thought it would be good to mention an antiracism book that addresses health issues.

WBEZ did a series in 2019 prompted by a New York University School of Medicine study that showed life expectancy discrepancies in cities. Chicago was the location of the most dramatic discrepancy, 30 years, between residents of Streeterville and Englewood.

The series, “Closing the Gap,” looked at a range of causes for the wide discrepancy.

“Weathering: The Extraordinary Stress of Ordinary Life in an Unjust Society” by Arline T. Geronimus provides a compelling explanation for the gap and sheds light on the social and physiological impacts of racialization on people’s health.

She differentiates racialization from race.

“It is not what we call race, per se, that impacts health — being Black, for example, does not mean being inherently vulnerable to poor health. Rather, it is society’s racialization of certain groups … that damages their health,” she says.

Racialization is the stereotypes that are applied to groups of people. For example, the ideas that Black people are irresponsible, or insensitive to pain or naturally suited to harmful occupations are socially assigned rather than actual characteristics. And those ideas do harm when people of power and privilege assume they are true and act accordingly.

“Once identified, a racialized group can be portrayed in terms that naturalize their oppression, exploitation, and exclusion,” Geronimus says.

People who are racialized are subject to frequent treatment as if they are inferior or dangerous, and that triggers the mechanism that was designed to be a survival tool, the fight-or-flight instinct.

Eventually, people reach an almost constant state of physiological stress response. Constant vigilance exacts a toll. There’s an old saying regarding small harms that add up: “death by a thousand cuts.” It turns out even “microaggressions” become significantly damaging when they are a nearly constant presence.

They add up.

Geronimus says her research shows chronic triggering of fight-or-flight, with its flood of adrenaline, wears out bodies at the cellular level.

She said the effect is even common among racialized people who have economic and educational advantages and cites tennis star Serena Williams as an example. Even as an athlete in top condition, with enough resources to have access to the best health care, she suffered from serious health issues that almost cost her life at one point.

The damage caused by weather saddles people with the diseases of age — cancers, high blood pressure, diabetes — much earlier in life than people who are privileged. It shears years off their lives.

She specifically counters the common assumption in our culture that anyone who suffers from chronic health conditions must be at fault. They failed to eat right or exercise enough. They didn’t go to the doctor regularly. And so on.

She calls the assumption that everyone will age at approximately the same rate unless they get hit by lightning or fail to live right “age washing” and says it is a way to shift blame from racism to the victims of racism.

“In our system, unearned benefits for some and undue burdens for others will be the rule until we all see and reject certain core American myths and racist ideology,” Geronimus says.

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