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Afternoon Edition: Sept. 21, 2020

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

Rochelle Borden, left, and Amari Sails, right, pose for a portrait outside Whitney M. Young Magnet High School on Sunday.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

We’ve got a beautiful afternoon in the forecast to kick your week off right: sunny with a high near 75 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 54 degrees. Tomorrow will be nice and warm: sunny with a high near 79 degrees.

Top story

Top CPS high schools vow changes after racism charges, but problems persist

As the academic year gets underway following a summer of racial reckoning, a few of Chicago’s highly rated selective enrollment public high schools say they’re trying to create more inclusive environments — after students called them out on Instagram.

With the backdrop of police brutality and social justice protests erupting in Chicago and around the country, students of color launched Instagram pages to highlight racism and the realities of what it’s like to be Black, Brown or Indigenous at some of the city’s most prestigious high schools, including Walter Payton College Prep, Jones College Prep and Whitney Young Magnet High School. The pages have garnered thousands of followers, with hundreds of posts submitted by students, alumni, parents and even teachers.

The posts, most anonymously submitted, range from allegations of overt racism — including claims other students openly used slurs or stereotypes — to microaggressions and biased treatment from school staff. Many describe a feeling of otherness at schools where wealthy white students are often front and center.

In response, leaders at some of the schools have launched initiatives to improve their cultures and have even tapped some of those involved with the Instagram pages to help come up with solutions.

Those efforts have already hit a hiccup at Payton, where at least one remote learning class was hijacked by anonymous callers screaming racial slurs. In another class, a student was heard using the N-word while he thought he was on mute.

Payton junior Jada Wordlaw, of Washington Park, is one of the founders of the anti-racist Instagram page at Payton. She said the school has a history of not taking racist incidents seriously and not punishing students harshly enough.

“I was kind of expecting something to happen sooner or later, but definitely not in the first week,” Wordlaw said. “At a school like Payton, that prides itself on being a liberal, progressive school, over the years I’ve just been expecting less and less.”

First-year Payton Principal Melissa Resh addressed the recent incidents in an email to the Payton community last week, saying that “Google bombers” at schools across the city appear to have been given links to classrooms by their peers. She also noted Payton student accounts have been connected to incidents at other schools, and said CPS is launching an investigation into those cases.

As for the student who was heard using a racial slur in class, Resh said “the student that caused the harm is being supported with reflection, skill-building, and accountability conversations and interventions so that the individual can repair harm they have caused, learn new skills, and together, we can ensure the safety of the classroom and school community.”

Read the full story to learn about incidents at other schools.

More news you need

  1. Nine people were killed and 36 others, including a 16-year-old boy, were injured by gunfire this weekend across Chicago. Shootings and murders are up 50% compared to last year, according to Chicago Police Department statistics.
  2. “Cheer” star Jerry Harris will remain in federal custody after calling off a planned detention hearing this morning, a few days after his arrest on a child pornography charge. Harris, 21, of Naperville, was charged with production of child pornography in a 28-page criminal complaint.
  3. Lawry’s The Prime Rib, which has been a River North staple for nearly half a century, is shutting its doors at the end of this year. “We’ve done everything we can to hold on,“ said Lawry’s CEO, blaming the coronavirus, in part, for the decision.

A bright one

4 Chicago artists, including Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa, team up to give school supplies to kids in need

Four Chicago rappers — Chance the Rapper, Vic Mensa, Joey Purp and G Herbo — joined forces Saturday to give back to their communities by co-sponsoring the Year of the Youth peace walk and back-to-school event in Bronzeville.

Following a pre-walk dance party, nearly 100 people chanted as they marched through the South Side neighborhood, with organizers bringing about two dozen children up front to lead the final stretch of the demonstration.

Later, the four artists, along with many volunteers from Chance’s SocialWorks and Mensa’s Save Money, Save Life Foundation, handed out more than 2,000 backpacks filled with school supplies outside the shuttered Overton Elementary School at 221 E. 49th St. The event also had a table set up to help people register to vote and tents for free COVID-19 and HIV testing.

From left: Chance the Rapper, G Herbo, Vic Mensa and Joey Purp chat before speaking Saturday outside Overton Elementary School in Bronzeville.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Chance said the event was “definitely the most important thing” to him to attend, adding that being with the children and interacting with fans “means everything.”

“This is just about being able to lead by example for the next generation,” said G Herbo, who purchased the Overton Elementary School building after it closed in 2013, with the goal of turning it into a multimedia facility to bring in producers, rappers and others to mentor youth. “We’re really just trying to change the narrative … and show the next generation that they can do what we’re doing even greater.”

Read Madeline Kenney’s full story here.

From the press box

Some members of the high-powered White Sox offense have been slumping lately, and it’d be best if they got that out of their system before the postseason starts in eight days, Daryl Van Schouwen writes. The same goes for season-long slumpers Nomar Mazara and Edwin Encarnacion.

And Bears fans may want to keep an eye on receiver Darnell Mooney, whose big touchdown catch was part of a day where he played 60% of the team’s offensive snaps. That’s a meaty role for the rookie, who could be a bigger part of the passing game than expected.

Your daily question ☕

What did you think of last night’s virtual Emmys?

Email us (please include your first name and where you live) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Friday, we asked you: What’s the first thing you usually do to kick off your weekend? Here’s what some of you said…

“Crack open my sketchbook and wait for inspiration to take hold.” — Deborah Pogue

“I go grocery shopping on Friday afternoon to free up Saturday and Sunday.” — Suzanna York

“Crush a cold beer.” — Tim Stang

Thanks for reading the Chicago Afternoon Edition. Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.

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