Fifth-Graders Bash Media Portrayal of Chicago: ‘This isn’t Chi-raq. This is Home.’

Chicago students say this is not Chi-raq, it is home

Source: NPR

A group of fifth-graders in Chicago wrote an op-ed to address the way the media has been portraying the city in the news lately.

The op-ed was published in The Chicago Tribune last week and had a clear message for the media.

Chicago is not “Chi-raq” to these children; it is simply their home.

The city has been getting a lot of media attention because of the violence and fatal shootings that have occurred this year.

Chicago has already had more than 1,200 reported shootings and recent holiday weekends have ended with nearly 20 deaths. 

Students from the Bradwell School of Excellence all live in South Shore, which recently made headlines after six people were shot in a local laundromat.

“We saw your news trucks and cameras here recently and we read the articles, ‘Six shot in South Shore laundromat’ and ‘Another mass shooting in Terror Town,’ ” the students wrote. “We saw the reporters with fancy suits in front of our laundromat. You spent less than 24 hours here, but you don’t really know us.”

The students said the reporters don’t see the normal activity of the community —  children jumping rope, a local store clerk giving out free candy, or families going to church together.

“When the sun shines here, it’s not God saying he wants to burn us; He sees us all with bright futures,” the students wrote. “Those who know us look at the ones who want to go to college, not the ones who dropped out of school.”

Their final statement addressed the new moniker that has been used to refer to their city.

Chicago students write to the media

Source: NPR

The number of shootings in Chicago has earned it the nickname “Chi-raq,” a combination of Chicago and Iraq, thus comparing the amount of violence in Chicago to the violence in the war-torn country.

According to these young students, however, the name isn’t fitting for the place they call home.

“Do you see the smile on the cashier’s face when the kids walk in?” they asked. “Why? Because this neighborhood is filled with love. This isn’t Chi-raq. This is home. This is us.”

Two of the students behind the essay had the opportunity to appear on NPR.

“It wasn’t really hard to write it,” Rondayle Sanders said. “Because I always try to see the good things out of bad. As a class we wrote it, and it inspired a lot of people.”

Linsey Rose, the teacher who supervised the essay, said writing the op-ed was not necessarily a walk in the park.

Rose said that at one point it seemed that the negative portrayal of Chicago had influenced the students’ belief in their hometown.

“It was hard when we started because when we started working on that first part of the essay, you know, ‘What do you think people know about you?’ the students were able to rattle off lots of the stereotypes they know about their neighborhood,” Rose said. “But when we got to the second part, it took us a while to think of, ‘What are the great things?’ And I think that’s a testament to the narrative that we hear so often.”


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