By Steven Blumenthal
Communications Dept., Jewish Council on Urban Affairs
Imagine a city where every child is afforded equal access to quality public education and any person can visit a healthcare clinic with the best doctors the city can find. A Chicago of such bliss may seem unattainable, but the attendees of the Chicago Racial Equality Forum spent two days, June 8 and 9, envisioning that Windy City.
The Chicago Racial Equality Forum was sponsored by the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA), the Coalition of African, Arab, Asian, European and Latino Immigrants of Illinois (CAAAELII) and the Midwest Coalition for Human Rights.
The event was held at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies with Krishanti Dharmaraj, a human rights activist from San Francisco, as facilitator. Dharmaraj is an impassioned and wonderful speaker with a breadth of knowledge that was enlightening to all in attendance.
The discussion took place under the umbrella of the International Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), a United Nations convention, and its application to the city of Chicago. Engaging the participants, a rich blend of Chicago’s diverse population groups, Dharmaraj used drawings and small group discussions in order to achieve an open and honest dialogue about the racial problems that continue to plague Chicago.
As the event came to a close it became increasingly evident that all participants had a similar notion of what it would take to make Chicago an equitable city, equal access to education for all children.
Chicago has numerous issues that it must address before the city can recognize its full potential but if there is one positive that can be taken from the event it is that the ingenuity and passion of the people and organizations of Chicago that are working toward social justice are too great to be held down. The winds of change are picking up.