Notes for 1/9/19

Surviving Loudly

For nearly two decades, it’s been public knowledge that R. Kelly levies his fame to control and abuse underage women: last week’s Surviving R. Kelly just said it louder. But the documentary, and an interview with Chance the Rapper featured within it, have set into motion a new conversation about sexual violence in the Chicago music scene. It seems clear that Chance’s comments—that he “didn’t value the accusers’ stories because they were Black women”—were taken out of context. But it’s hard to take heart in his efforts to recognize misogynoir when he remains silent on accusations made against his own friends and collaborators, like SaveMoney member Towkio, who issued a Notes app denial of the claims of rape against him. Several women have since come forward under the #SurvivingLoudly hashtag to share their experiences with sexual assault in the Chicago music scene, with artists and activists that the Weekly has covered in the past—like Malcom London and Ethos Viets-VanLear—named as abusers. It’s a painful moment.

It’s in the Constitution—So What?

This week, Democratic Ward Committeemen appointed Robert Peters to replace Kwame Raoul as state senator for the 13th District, which covers the entire lakefront on the South Side. Peters is an organizer with Reclaim Chicago and, notably, a political consultant for Cook County Board President and mayoral candidate Toni Preckwinkle. She is also the 4th Ward committeeman whose vote carried the second-most weight in Peters’ appointment (committee votes are weighted depending on how much of that ward falls within the district; 5th Ward Alderman and committeeman Leslie Hairston had the most pull). A few residents, including 4th and 5th Ward aldermanic candidates Ebony Lucas and Gabriel Piemonte, protested Peters’ appointment, arguing that voters should be able to choose Raoul’s successor by special election—in other words, they want to have democratic representation in the 13th District. Technically, these protesters are going up against the state constitution, which clearly states that a vacancy should be filled by party appointment. Still, they have a point. Illinois is one of only four states which gives political parties—rather than voters or public bodies—the power to fill vacancies. And history shows that the Democratic Machine has long used appointments as a way to reward allies and consolidate power; Raoul was also appointed to this seat in 2004, in a process again led by Preckwinkle, who told the Tribune at the time his top qualities were his electability and fundraising prowess. It’s too late for the residents of the 13th District, but the rest of Illinois should take note: constitutions can be changed.

Christ the King is Risen

A destructive fire, an Archdiocese-instigated demolition threat, and a fierce, church-saving community campaign later, Woodlawn’s Shrine of Christ the King is finally set to be rebuilt: this past weekend, the Institute of Christ the King, which now owns the deed, released renderings of the new building. You can go read the details on the institute’s website—— or you can do the smart thing and watch the accompanying video, featuring a virtual tour of the church soundtracked by Gregorian chanting. Our favorite feature—the Corinthian columns, which “speak in silence of the glorious simplicity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the unwavering strength of the Twelve Apostles, supporting the Church until the end of time.”

Rahm Talks a Big Talk on Education

Our city’s fearless leader is apparently preparing for the post-mayoral lecture circuit early. First up? A self-aggrandizing op-ed in The Atlantic in which he argues for free community college for all (and somehow finds room to recount his entire political résumé). Emanuel extols the success of his Chicago Star Scholarship program, which offers a free associate’s degree to CPS students with a B average or better and then subsidized four-year tuition for those who maintain those grades. He’s right that everyone deserves access to higher education regardless of income, but it feels a bit rich to see Emanuel in the pages of The Atlantic lecturing the nation on education access when he’s best-known at home for shuttering nearly fifty public elementary schools, worsening outcomes for affected students. And it feels more than a bit rich considering that, during his tenure, City Colleges implemented a controversial funding structure, later reversed, that penalized part-time students. (That’s not to mention the Better Government Association investigation that found City Colleges, under Emanuel’s chancellors, had retroactively awarded hundreds of degrees to unaware former students to boost its marketing statistics.) As usual, we wish his actions as mayor had spoken as loud as his words.

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