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Are Racial Attitudes Really Changing? Some Black Activists Are Skeptical

Are Racial Attitudes Really Changing? Some Black Activists Are Skeptical

On a recent day in early August, Ms. Latiker of Kids Off the Block inspected the outdoor basketball court that the nonprofit uses as a home base, hosting tournaments, comedy shows and other events in hopes of keeping children busy — and safe. It is erected next to a memorial for young people killed by gun violence, where community members carve the name of every victim and their date of death into a stone plate. Ms. Latiker created the memorial in 2007, after Blair Holt, an honor roll student, was killed by gunfire in a case that garnered national attention. The memorial now has more than 700 names, many of them less known outside Roseland; some of the victims went through Ms. Latiker’s after-school program.

“We’re dealing with a pandemic, we’re dealing with violence, we’re dealing with young people who were already behind in school,” she said. “Why did minds have to be changed? Why did it take a Black man to be killed? Why does it take protests? Why does it take riots?”

Ms. Latiker said it frustrated her to see the gun violence in Chicago used as a cudgel by Mr. Trump and other Republicans to discredit the Black Lives Matter movement. The problems of urban violence and systemic racism in law enforcement exist in tandem, she said, and the anti-violence activists in this city are supportive of national protest efforts.

Gwen Baxter runs the Sisterhood, a group of mothers who have lost children to gun violence. Ms. Baxter said gun violence and crime were the result of economic disinvestment and displacement, a byproduct of racist public policy. She started the Sisterhood after her son was killed in 2003, she said, in part to fill gaps in public policy she saw around her.

“Go Far North, and then come back south,” Ms. Baxter said, talking about the city of Chicago. “You can feel the difference. The whole atmosphere changes. What you feel here is pain.”

Roseland’s challenges, however great, do not diminish the pride of many of its longtime residents. Ms. Latiker has refused to move, as has Mr. Dobine, following a defiant streak that will not allow them to become the deserters they resent. That pride was at its peak in 2008, when Mr. Obama completed his ascent from Roseland community organizer to commander in chief.

“We thought this was our time,” Mr. Dobine said.

In interviews and speeches, Mr. Obama has credited his time in Roseland for grounding his political philosophy and his understanding of grass-roots politics. Among several Roseland residents, however, his presidency is now associated with another moment of false hope, a time when many thought the city’s systemic problems were over, courtesy of their adopted political son.

Ms. Algee, who worked on Mr. Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns, said Roseland’s pride in the former president exists alongside some disappointment. “I truly believe that it was his intent to do more in our communities,” she said. “But people were blocking every step of the way.”

Ms. Latiker took 21 children and teenagers to Mr. Obama’s 2009 inauguration in Washington, a memory she still recounts with a sense of wide-eyed giddiness. But what has happened in the subsequent 11 years informs how she feels now — and the wariness she reserves for those who promise to deliver on structural reforms.

“When he made that speech, they thought change was coming,” Ms. Latiker said. “I thought change was coming.”

She does not have that problem now. She expects nothing.

Read the full article on the New York Times website.

Preventing Violence and Protecting Children

Preventing Violence and Protecting Children

CHICAGO (WLS) — After two dangerous and deadly weekends in Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Police Superintendent David Brown said it would be an all-hands-on-deck approach to keeping people safe over the July Fourth holiday.

ABC 7 Chicago spoke with two people who have long been working in Chicago neighborhoods to address violence.

Diane Latiker founded Kids Off the Block, turning her Roseland home into a safe place for children.

Chris Patterson, the senior director of programs and policy at the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago, also joined ABC 7 Chicago.

The organization is putting 150 people on the street over the weekend with the goal of preventing violence.

Watch the full segment on the ABC7 website.

“Pick Up & Go” Event

“Pick Up & Go” Event

On Wednesday June 3, 2020, Kids Off The Block, Inc. (KOB) hosted a Pop Up “Pick Up & Go” Event!!!

In a span of 4 hours we gave away: 600 meals, 500 cups of sanitizer, 415 pairs of gloves and 3,722 masks!

When I tell you the Young People showed up and showed out, they shut down Michigan Ave, cars were lined up because we came off the lot and into the streets! Thank you so much to all the Volunteers and Donors including Art of Giving Foundation, Larry Mollner, Project Isaiah, Masks4Chi!!!

Founder of South Side nonprofit doles out COVID-19 supplies to hard hit black community

Founder of South Side nonprofit doles out COVID-19 supplies to hard hit black community

Diane Latiker has never been one to wait for others to solve problems.

After all, she started her nonprofit Kids Off the Block 16 years ago by opening up her own living room to at-risk youth to curb gang violence, quickly gaining national recognition that included being honored as a CNN hero and one of L’Oreal Paris’ Women of Worth.

Before the spotlight was turned on the disproportionate COVID-19 deaths among African Americans — and social determinants fueling them — Latiker knew the disadvantaged population she served in Roseland would be hard hit.

After the Chicago Public Schools closed March 17, she and her husband set up a tent at 115th Street & Michigan Avenue, offering burgers, chips and juice to any hungry youth.

“I was sitting in my bedroom watching all the devastating coronavirus news and feeling afraid, even with my faith as strong as it is. So I prayed, and it came to me,” said the 63-year-old mother of eight and grandmother of 15.

“We’d wait for young people to come by, and ask them, ‘Hey, did you eat today? Did you go to the school?’ They’d say, ‘No,’ and we’d give them a meal. Then the homeless heard we were out there, and started coming. Now we were feeding them too.”

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