Chicago : A Tale of Two Cities

I don’t know how many times I’ve taken a ride down Lake Shore Drive and just had to take the same picture of the skyline or the sun rising/setting over the lake.  Still rolling along, the extravagant high-rises, vibrancy of downtown and visions of people enjoying what Chicago has to offer makes you feel like you are really a part of the dream- like this is your city. So you keep driving south beyond the city’s glory and transition from LSD to the Dan Ryan—behold an abundance of liquor stores, vacant lots, abandoned homes, and people scattered in the streets trying to push random hustles or just trying to survive, period. The despondence and divestment are incredibly depressing and a harsh reality that this is your city. And while I have been to a number of cities, Chicago is still the most beautiful…but also one of the ugliest.

Our communities have been left to perish; most of our schools serve as preliminary prison landings, drugs and crime have infiltrated our neighborhoods at an alarming rate, and our economy is almost laughable.  People have given up hope.  People are leaving in search of better lives.  And in the midst of this, Chicago boasts itself as a world-class city.
As a lifelong resident of the Englewood community, I’m not really asking for much…just the same opportunities afforded to those that live north of 47th street.  Can our students at Harper High School have the same resources as those at Walter Payton?  Can TIF funds be used to support small businesses and community support services?  Leaders- can you fight just a little harder for legislation that criminalizes and reduces the distribution of weapons and drugs in our communities?  Can we be a part of this world-class city too?

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Tanesha Peeples

South Side community leader Tanesha Peeples is a Chicago Public Schools alumna and proud Englewoodian. She currently serves on the board of the Montessori School of Englewood. Formerly, she served the Deputy Director of Outreach for Education Post, for whom she penned the long-running column Hope and Outrage. As an undergraduate student at Northern Illinois University, Tanesha began to develop a passion for and understand the importance of public service. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in political science and public administration, she returned to Chicago with a new perspective on community, politics and civic engagement. Tanesha then attended and graduated from DePaul University with a master’s degree in public service management and urban planning and development. Throughout her professional career, Tanesha has used her education, passion and experience to navigate a number of nonprofit, political and independent ventures, advancing her mission to educate and empower marginalized populations. Prior to joining Education Post, she also managed her own consulting firm specializing in community relations. Tanesha’s vision is one where everyone—regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender or zip code—can have access to a comfortable quality of life and enjoy the freedoms and liberties promised to all Americans. Find her on Twitter at @PeeplesChoice85.