Equity

Race, Culture & Ethnicity

A boisterous crowd filled the Senate gallery last May to witness legislator after legislator rise to support a measure that would enable children of illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at public universities.

Alejandro Cortes needs to drive to work, take his 2-year-old daughter to daycare and buy groceries. But Cortes, a 33-year-old undocumented Mexican immigrant, doesn’t have a driver’s license. To make matters worse, there’s no public transportation in the northwest suburban town where he lives. So he drives, as he’s done for the past three years he’s lived here, without the state’s permission. 

“We don’t want to be in trouble with the authorities,” he says in Spanish. “There’s a lot of drunks who can cause accidents. It worries me for my family.”

Alejandro Cortés necesita manejar para poder trabajar, para llevar a su hija de dos años a la guardería y para ir al supermercado. Pero Cortés, un inmigrante mexicano indocumentado de 33 años, no tiene licencia para conducir.

Para complicar las cosas, no hay transportación pública en el pueblo donde vive. 

Entonces él ha conducido por los ultimos tres años sin el permiso del estado. 

“No queremos problemas con las autoridades”, dijo en español. “Hay muchos borrachos que pueden causar accidentes y me preocupa por mi familia.”

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Samantha gave a lot of thought to her chances for a good education. A student at East St. Louis High, a down-and-out school in a virtually all-black, low-income district, she had once tried to transfer to a better school in nearby Fairview Heights, a mainly white district in the state’s Metro East region. It didn’t work.

Brown v. Board of Education
Charlotte Observer

After five decades of increasing integration, American schools are now moving in the other direction, toward more segregation for African-American and Latino students. In fact, the new study out of Harvard University making that contention names Illinois among the states that continue to have the most segregated schools.

A couple of decades ago, Naperville’s teachers were unlikely to encounter a child carrying an ornamental sword to school, or a parent who doesn’t understand that an art shirt is a painting smock, or a boy getting teased because his first name is Fuk, a good luck word in Chinese.

But these days such cultural collisions are regular occurrences in the far western suburb of Chicago.

Jon Randolph

The suburbs to the southwest of Chicago have never been known for eagerness to embrace diversity. Nevertheless, diversity is beginning to embrace them. 

The sprawling community of Oak Lawn and the smaller nearby towns of Bridgeview, Burbank, Hometown, Chicago Ridge and Palos Heights mushroomed in the '50s and '60s as white ethnics fled the South and Southwest sides of the changing city of Chicago.

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