Joe Mitchell

The More Things Change ...

Dec 11, 2017

I was humbled when Dr. Laura Vazquez of Northern Illinois University invited me to work with her on a documentary about the history of racism and exclusion in DeKalb.

My interest in this topic was piqued several years ago when I learned Sycamore was a stop on the Underground Railroad but DeKalb was not.

While it was an unwritten ordinance, DeKalb was a “sundown town” until roughly 50 years ago -- meaning African-Americans should not be in town once the sun goes down. Many African-American NIU students had to live in Sycamore.

Isolated Cases Don't Define Everyone

Nov 6, 2017

There has been a rash of shooting incidents in DeKalb the last few weeks. On Halloween night, a woman was shot in the leg while driving in front of University Village. These acts of senseless violence are disturbing and angering at the same time. Thankfully the injuries are concerned non-life-threatening and the victim should recover.

Because of the proximity of the shootings and ethnicity of some of the perpetrators, it’s become common to blame Section 8 and all African-American residents for these acts of violence on social media.

A Real Protest Of A Real Problem

Oct 2, 2017

For the last 14 months this nation has been involved in a heated dialogue about protesting and the First Amendment. This stems from now ex-NFL player Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the singing of the national anthem at the beginning of games.

From the beginning he, and other NFL players who have joined him have been clear about their actions. This is not about our military, our nation, or our flag. This is about injustice and inequality systematically perpetrated against people of color in this country.

We Have Work To Do ...

Aug 28, 2017

While the terrorist activities of Charlottesville, Va., were over two weeks ago, I’m still wrestling with it emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

The brazen and cowardly acts of racism, bigotry, and hatred by White Nationalists caused the death of Heather Heyer, Lt. Jay Cullen, Trooper-Pilot Berke Bates, and left DeAndre Harris severely injured. This display of white supremacy was disappointing, but it wasn’t surprising.

The sanitized American history we are taught in school leaves a plethora of important details undiscussed:

Adding Faces At The Table

Jul 24, 2017

“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”

Recently my wife attended a Social Justice camp at NIU as a representative of DeKalb School District 428.  She shared this quote from the camp on Social Media, and it has been resonating in my mind for the last month. While it’s an uncomfortable analogy, the vivid imagery it invokes is quite effective.