IRRPP State of Racial Justice in Chicago Project
IRRPP's State of Racial Justice in Chicago reports provide a comprehensive picture of the inequities and changing conditions that racial and ethnic groups in Chicago face in the last half century. These reports provide accessible data and analysis on how racial and ethnic groups in Chicago are faring in relation to housing, economics, education, justice, and health and are meant as a resource for the development of new engaged research projects and policy solutions.
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In this report we center the lived experiences Black, Latinx, and white residents of three neighborhoods — Austin, Little Village, and Albany Park — in order to explore how the pandemic has impacted different communities in the city. Drawing on over 150 interviews with residents and policy makers, we find that while COVID-19 has been treated as a health crisis at the federal, state, and local levels and thus has been fought through a series of public health strategies, the residents we spoke to experienced it as a much broader crisis related to housing, jobs, childcare, schooling, and healthcare.
The policy response to COVID-19 gave explicit attention to racial equity but, for a number of reasons we lay out, often fell short in meeting the needs of the most vulnerable. Longstanding structural inequities meant that low-income and working-class Chicagoans were more vulnerable both to the disease and to the impact of disease mitigation strategies (e.g., economic fallout of the shutdown).
By the time they reach adulthood, Black and Latinx children born to middle income families in Chicago are far less likely than White children from families with the same income to remain in the middle class or to attain a college degree. These patterns in downward mobility among middle class Black and Latinx Chicagoans are much worse than national averages, raising important questions about the future of Black and Latinx communities in Chicago.
In this report, we argue that we need an in-depth understanding of wealth inequality to comprehend why middle class families in Chicago seem to be on such different trajectories. The report centers the life experiences of middle class Black, Latinx, and White families to demonstrate that there is much work to be done to support our middle class families, many of whom are contending today not just with the legacies of past inequities, but also with the ongoing failures of public policy to address basic needs.
Starting in 1980, Chicago’s African American population growth not only halted, but reversed. By 2016, the population of black Chicagoans had decreased by 350,000 from its peak in 1980. These population trends have attracted significant media attention and speculation about why black Chicagoans are leaving the city.
Given these trends, IRRPP set out to analyze what the data on population in Chicago can tell us about black migration into and out of the city. In this report, we assess the historical context of shifts taking place over the past 100 years, provide a more detailed analysis of population change across Chicago neighborhoods from 1990 to 2016, and examine where Chicagoans who are leaving the city are going.
Although Native American Chicagoans play a central role in the social fabric of the city, relatively little attention has been directed to documenting the experiences of racial discrimination and inequities for Native American Chicagoans. In this report, we examine the state of racial justice for Native Americans in Chicago.
Our report is organized across five substantive areas, Population, Housing, (Mis)Representations of American Indians in Popular Culture, Education, Economics, and Justice, each focusing on a different aspect of racial equity. In each section, we draw on available data to describe the current conditions and experiences of Native American Chicagoans, including areas where they are thriving and areas where they are negatively affected by the legacy of racial exclusion as well as ongoing discrimination.
Relatively little attention has been directed to documenting the experiences of racial discrimination and inequities for Asian Americans in Chicago. In this report, we examine the state of racial justice for Asian Americans in Chicago. The data in this report illustrate the diverse and often divergent experiences of Asian Chicagoans who have to navigate the complexity and contradiction of model minority and forever foreigner stereotypes.
Asian Americans are both imagined as hard working and high achieving, and at the same time are often treated as permanent outsiders. A central finding of this report is that while diversity is a defining characteristic of this pan-ethnic group, racial inequities affect the opportunities and life experiences of all Asian American Chicagoans.
Chicago’s largest racial and ethnic groups—blacks, Latinxs, and whites—each make up roughly one-third of the city’s population. As this report reveals, these groups generally live in separate neighborhoods and have divergent experiences when it comes to housing, economics, education, justice, and health. Capturing life in Chicago today is in many ways a tale of three cities.
The central finding of this report is that racial and ethnic inequities in Chicago remain pervasive, persistent, and consequential. These inequities affect the lives of Chicagoans in every neighborhood; they have not just spatial but also deep historical roots and are embedded in our social, economic, political, and cultural institutions; and they have powerful effects on the experiences and opportunities of all Chicagoans.