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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Saturday May 18th 2024

Raise Your Voice: Stop Toxic Harm

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives March goes down 24th Street on a rainy February 14. Photo Credit: Peter Molenaar


Three years before my mother’s mother was born, a young man named W.E.B. Du Bois took note: “Among the most corrosive effects of racism is its tendency to make its victims see themselves through the eyes of people who hold them in contempt.” Yet today, we ponder the death of Tyre Nichols. Indeed, ‘The Souls of Black Folk’ was Du Bois’ seminal work.

Thankfully, our nation’s book banning movement is resisted by the good librarians at Franklin, Hosmer, East Lake and Walker. ‘GO FREE OR DIE: A Story about Harriet Tubman’, has begun to circulate among our children. Yes, it is from within the ranks of the oppressed that the most transformative individuals emerge.
38th and Chicago, not long after…

I recall the convening of indigenous drums and dancers there.

February 14, 2023…

The gymnasium of the East Phillips Park Cultural and Community Center sheltered a fortitude and eloquence which rallied hundreds to march in the name of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives. The rain and slippery ice faltered no-one, as we walked down 24th to head south on Cedar Avenue, before looping around 26th and then down Bloomington back to 24th street and the Center. However, the mayor of our city was not among us!


Fact is, Mayor Frey made an appearance in the lobby, but was blocked from entering the gym. Was this community action just? Yes, it was totally just. How so? Well, regarding the transformation of the Roof Depot site, instead of rendering market assistance to our community business model, his administration purchased the site “out from under us” with the intent of concentrating the city’s diesel fleet (i.e., diesel fumes) here, on top of the already existing air pollution. Moreover, the mayor has, as far as we know, made no effort to procure state or federal funding for an electric truck fleet. Get the picture?
What does Science tell us?

Past studies suggest that people exposed to air pollution may be more likely to develop mental health conditions and neurodegenerative diseases. A more recent study shows that exposure, even to diluted diesel exhaust, results in less “functional connectivity” in a key brain network linked to internal thought, introspection, and focused attention. (See: Even brief exposure to diesel fumes alters activity in key brain network, in the February 14 issue of LIVESCIENCE.)

In resisting the degradation of our neighborhood, we shall be resisting the degradation of children everywhere.

Peter Molenaar is bulk distributor of the alley. As such, he is likely familiar with more of the “nooks and crannies” within Phillips than anyone else alive.

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