Much to his credit, Chance the Rapper continues to use his platform and visibility to call attention to ongoing concerns in his native Chicago.
In 2016, the rapper launched SocialWorks, a charity organization centered on youth empowerment through the arts and educational resources. It is fitting then, that Chance wrote an op-ed for the Chicago Tribune addressing the issue of displacement of resources among disadvantaged black and brown youth in the Chicago public school systems.
In advocating for the prosperity of CPS, Chance writes: "My efforts — through face-to-face interactions and programming in the schools or creating grants that provide CPS principals the resources to produce their dream schools — are a sign of support that no matter the circumstances, I'm committed to providing innovative ways to work with institutions to positively affect our children."
Chance is clear that his investment is not a bid for approval, but that he is committed to the success of CPS students.
"Instead," he writes. "I am witnessing what seems to be the never-ending cycle of the displacement of our black and brown children."
In advocating for the continued existence of South Side elementary school, National Teacher's Academy, which closed last year so that the building could be used for a new high school, Chance writes: "CPS made the decision despite NTA's educational successes and despite unwavering objections from the NTA community," citing accessible after-school activities, a built-in community health clinic, and a senior recreation center among those successes. Additionally, NTA is also a Level 1+ school, meaning it has earned the highest standardized school rating from CPS, "outpacing 80 percent of students across the nation," Chance writes.
He effectively puts forward a call to action for the "village" that makes up the NTA school and CPS school system communities.
That said, Chance's efforts to raise awareness, along with various on-the-ground efforts from local parents and families, and online campaigns, appears to have worked. A local report reads that, though the new high school was slated to open next fall, Cook County Judge Frank Valderrama granted an injunction Monday afternoon, ruling that parents who challenged the closure of National Teachers Academy Elementary had a high likelihood of succeeding in their lawsuit. Those parents are also arguing that Chicago Public Schools violated their civil rights through the closure.
The report also stated that "many parents in the packed courtroom had tears streaming down their face as the decision was read."
Further, this action reportedly marks the first time the court has intervened in a school closing decision by Chicago Public Schools.
I guess the takeaway here is that you can be the change you wish to see, and it can actually work out for the best.
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