Tiffany Walden, Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of The TRiiBE

A Note From the Editor

People just can’t keep Chicago out of their mouths these days.

Turn to one of the 24-hour news channels on any given day and there’s some alien talking head telling the world why the city is a war zone when they’ve never even stepped foot inside a Sharks Fish & Chicken and ordered a 6-piece fried hard with lemon pepper and mild sauce.

And watch as our nation’s leader regularly uses his Twitter fingers to threaten Chicago with military force as he continues to avoid coming to the city, walking the streets of the South and West sides and actually meeting with victims’ families, activists and city leaders to gain more insight on every layer behind the violence.

This particular fascination with Chicago isn’t new. In fact, this mainstream exploitation of the South and West sides is a decades-old practice. Chicago, from the mouths of outsiders, is just another buzzword for 45’s “inner-city Blacks” and it’s time we take back our narrative.

Recently, I covered a discussion with The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates at my old stomping grounds, Northwestern University, for Chicago Magazine. When asked about his work in Chicago, Coates regarded the Windy City as “the capital of Black America.”

And it is. The matriarchs of my childhood North Lawndale community, and others like it, came from Jim Crow’s South. They passed on their dialect, music tastes, soul food recipes and caution for shady government authority to their children and grandchildren. That’s why Black Chicagoans sound like we’re from Mississippi and produce soulful rappers like Chance the Rapper and possess the best restaurants and never trust the police.

For far too long, we’ve been ground zero for the modern demonizing of Black folks. Daddy Daley sicced his National Guard dogs on us – on national television – in the 1960s when our parents, grandparents and even Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King ever wanted was equal housing and education opportunities. The city left us to die in dilapidated public housing projects and economically down-torn neighborhoods in the 1980s and 90s – and this, too, was broadcast on national television. The tradition continues today as the faces of Black mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, cousins, babies and friends flash across local and national newscasts daily.

It’s hard to dream when you don’t know what possibility looks like. It’s also difficult to see the true essence of our beloved Black neighborhoods when the very quirks which make these places home aren’t recognized for the invaluable culture they add to the city. The TRiiBE will broadcast these counter narratives – everything from blocking off streets with cars for the House/hip-hop/R&B-filled summer block-club party to the importance of James Brown in Chicago’s rollerskating culture. Because, well, there’s beauty in our Blackness.

So if you’re ready to reclaim the Black Chicago we know and love, join The TRiiBE.


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