As the state creeps into a post-COVID recovery phase, the Crusader will examine how the lives of everyday Chicagoans and their neighborhoods have transformed since the pandemic and social unrest that followed the police slaying of George Floyd.
Floyd, 46, a father and former student-athlete, was reportedly murdered by kneeling Minneapolis police officers, in what some observers have called a “modern day lynching.” The May 25th incident sparked weeks of global unrest, with many U.S. cities, including Chicago, experiencing rebellions to central business districts. Local authorities reported 1,258 subsequent arrests and injuries to 130 police officers.
As the protests raged, the pandemic continued to claim more lives. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the state lost 21,301 people to coronavirus, a result of more than 1.2 million infections, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Joining those mourners, are the thousands of residents who lost or were unable to find work during the same period.
The state also reported a loss of 500,000 jobs since January 2020. Among them were scores of mom and pop businesses on the city’s South and West sides, budding startups, neighborhood restaurants, taverns, after-school and social service programs, and those servicing the hospitality, sports and recreation industries. State unemployment rates hover at 7.4 percent, however, in Chicago those outside the labor force averaged about 10.40 percent.
But these statistics don’t quite tell the story the way first-person narratives and community voices can. Thanks to the generosity of funding provided by the Field Foundation, Muck Rock, and other philanthropic organizations, the Crusader Newspaper Group will explore a series of stories about life post pandemic, taking a closer look at narratives and facts behind the headlines.
The interchangeable articles will explore food insecurity and the rise of nutrition deserts in Black communities. In addition, A Closer Look will examine how the course of care and administration of safety net hospitals have changed over the course of a year. Lastly, the series seeks to publish unique narratives and responses from Black Chicagoans about their experiences during the pandemic and their efforts to recover.
A Closer Look will begin in the Chicago Crusader’s April 10, 2021 issue.
–Crusader Special Projects Editor