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Kina Perry turned 40 on April 18; the greatest gift she could receive is a new kidney.
Lifelong Evanston resident Kina Perry was diagnosed with kidney disease 10 years ago, when she was just 30 years old. She received a kidney from a deceased donor, which failed six years later, when Kina was 36 (this is frequently about the lifespan of a cadaver kidney). Since then, Kina has spent about 12 hours a week on dialysis. She's not able to work at what she loves--being a full-time caregiver--and now depends on her mom Gigi Giles, with whom she lives, to care for her. Kina has spent many weeks in the hospital over the past year. For years, she has spent many days feeling too sick to do much of anything. When she's up to it, she enjoys crafting, making custom t-shirts and other items, and attending bible study at Christ Temple Church. "It's been a real journey for me," Kina says. Kina has been on the waitlist at the University of Chicago for four years for another cadaver kidney, but she'd be incredibly grateful if someone would come forward as soon as possible to donate a living organ--a far more successful and longer-lasting cure for her disease. "It would mean a lot. A very lot. It would change my life," says Kina. "I'd be able to go back to work. I miss working. I do crafting, but I'd rather be working a real full-time job." Gigi says that over the years a few people have expressed interest in donating a kidney to Kina. "We've had a few people say they want to do it, but when it came time, they don't answer the phone," she says. "It's real discouraging, but you just have to stay strong and dig deep down inside and stay positive and just know that this is going to happen." Gwen Macsai and Dan Coyne, both long-time Evanston residents, have each given the gift of a live kidney to someone in need. In 2017, Gwen responded to a friend who developed kidney disease. "I told her I would happily donate,” Gwen says. “I just thought that I would be a good candidate, and I knew that it didn't scare me." Though Gwen was not a match for her friend, a former Evanstonian now living in Maine, she entered what's known as a 'kidney swap' or a 'paired donation,' whereby you donate on behalf of someone, but not directly to that person. "Basically, my being willing to donate on my friend's behalf means that she's going to get a kidney from somebody else, and my kidney is going to go to a third or fourth person," Gwen explains. Gwen says preparing to donate a kidney includes going in for tests on a few occasions, meeting with a team – a doctor, social worker, and others – that determines you’re physically and mentally able to have the procedure. “It really wasn’t that big a deal,” says Gwen, explaining that the second day post-op was most painful. “Every day after day two, I just got exponentially better.” In less than a week she was able to walk a mile. “You know, a few days of tests and a few days of prep, and you can save a person's life!” she marvels. Dan Coyne, who donated a kidney to Evanston resident Myra de la Vega in 2010, agrees. “It was the simplest thing in the world,” Dan says of the surgery, “You get there, the medical people take over. All I have to do is lay down. When you wake up it seems like two seconds later … and the surgery is done.” Dan says he’s donated blood frequently since his college days because he is O-Negative, a universal donor. “I just learned how easy it is to give parts of your body to help other people – strangers,” he says. So when he learned that Myra, his favorite check-out clerk at the Jewel on Chicago Avenue, was in dire need of a kidney transplant, he asked her, “Well, I have two kidneys, do you want one of mine?” Dan was up on a stepladder helping a friend with building maintenance when the call came that he was a match. “I almost fell off the ladder. I was crying,” Dan remembers. “I couldn't believe it. I felt honored. I just felt like that was holy ground.” Dan says he asked his family – his wife and two children – for their blessing that evening. The response was an immediate “absolutely.” Today, both Gwen’s friend and Myra are thriving. “Myra’s been able to see her kids graduate from high school, and graduate school, and get jobs as adults … and she's alive,” Dan says. “For some reason, we humans have two kidneys and we can live a very normal life with just one. There's literally been no change in any of my life because of this.” For Kina, the gift hasn’t arrived just yet. But like her mom, she believes it will. “Please, if you guys can help, help me,” she says. Dan says he wants to shout from Mount Trashmore, “Give a kidney!” As for Gwen, she sums up her experience like this: “You'll never feel as good about anything you do in your entire life." If you'd like to explore donating one of your kidneys to Kina Perry, email firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible for next steps.
"Our clients are all ages, races, all genders, you just need a head!" Gigi Giles, Ebony Barber Shop
Last Thursday around noon, I stopped in to say hi for the first time in ages (yeah, the pandemic) to the dynamic Brigitte 'Gigi', Lady Barber, at Ebony Barber Shop Evanston, 1702 Dodge. That's the shop with the powerful wooden sculpture of the first freed Haitian slave in the window. Gigi's father, the late Marshall Giles, brought the hand-carved piece back from Haiti in the 1960s. It's been Ebony Barbershop's symbol since 1962, when Marshall Giles opened the shop for business. "When that sculpture's gone, it means we're gone," says Gigi. Marshall learned his art from the famous Sam Johnson, who founded Church Street Barber Shop. Now located at 1905 Church Street, it was one of Evanston's very first Black barber shops. Marshall handed down the talent and trade to Gigi, and one of Gigi's two daughters, Kandi, is a hair stylist too (her studio Ikandi hair studio is located at 1705 Central Street). My visit to Ebony started off during a short lull, so I had time to chat with Gigi, 62, as she folded clean wash cloths, but soon the shop was (literally) buzzing. I'll write about that conversation in another post. Meantime, as chairs filled, I met barbers Kodak, Relodabarber, and Greg Jackson, all in their 30s, who work their hair magic alongside Gigi. I discovered (did YOU know this?) that the internationally known red, white and blue barbershop sign hails from bygone days when barbers also pulled teeth, let blood, and served as doctors in other ways. "The blue is for the veins, the red is for the blood," Gigi told me. "And the white," Kodak added, "is for the bandages." Though barbers aren't doctors today, Kodak said they still "put people back together." "They come in here looking dusty and torn down, feeling in bad spirit, and we turn them around and they see the new face I've given them and ...," he laughs. "I only get my hair cut every three weeks to a month," says Relodabarber's client Kevin Wade, a three-year Evanston resident who's studying acting in London. "When I come in here, and I get a fresh cut. I feel brand new." Gigi and Greg Jackson say they're like therapists. "I listen," Gigi says. "I know every story." Greg says many people come to the barber shop not just for a hair cut, but for conversation. "Kids, adults, when you sit in this chair and you're comfortable with me, we're like best friends," he says. Men, women, and children come to Ebony from around the corner and, like Gigi's client Jimmie Lee, 73, as far away as Chicago's south and west sides. Lee, a violence interrupter with UCAN Chicago, has been driving the 45 minutes to Ebony from Chicago's west side for decades. "You treat people right, they come from everywhere," says Gigi. Located in Evanston's 5th ward, Ebony was exclusively a Black barber for many years as a result of racial segregation. Today, as the 5th ward diversifies (and gentrifies), Gigi says she and the other barbers serve every type of client. "All genders, all races, all ages, all ethnicities," Gigi says. "You just have to have hair. Or at least a head." Greg says he believes he was meant to be a barber. Both his uncles did hair, but more than that, he says he was raised at Ebony. "I literally grew up in here. I was always here," he says. "It's what I seen." Greg says a barber has to be very patient. "People come in here with a picture of a hairstyle, but their hair is completely the wrong texture for it," he laughs. "Or, their hair is incredibly short," Gigi interrupts shaking her head and laughing, "but they want a high top!" Gigi believes you have to have a good heart for barbering. And that she does. Each summer, Ebony barbers offer free back-to-school haircuts and styling to anywhere from 60 to 100 kids who can't afford a haircut. "We also give them school supplies and things like that," she says. This year Gigi is hoping to be able to give out tablets to the children. "We always give paper, pens, and pencils but they don't use them no more," she laughs. Each winter, the barber shop hosts a community coat drive for hundreds of kids. "But what people don't know," Gigi says, "is we help people on a direct basis every day. Feed them, give them money, a ride home." What makes barbering satisfying, I ask. "When they get out the chair with a smile on their face and they keep coming back and say, 'remember the cut you gave me last time? That's what I want" she says. _______ Meet Gigi, Greg, Kodak, Relodabarber, Jimmie, and Kevin in the short video! And stay tuned for more posts about Gigi and her family, coming soon. #dearevanston #ladybarber #ebonybarbershop #ikandihairstudio #evanstonillinois #evanston #evanstonil #ourevanston
Pastor Michael Nabor, Rabbi Andrea London: supporting Evanston reparations
Pastor Nabors is senior pastor of the second oldest Black churches in Evanston, Second Baptist Evanston, president of the Evanston/North Shore Branch NAACP and founding member of the Reparations Stakeholders Authority. Rabbi London is Senior Rabbi at Beth Emet The Free Synagogue, and an outspoken leader when it comes to social justice issues in Evanston and in Israel/Palestine. NINA KAVIN/DE: You've both been instrumental in bringing our faith communities together in Evanston to celebrate and support each other across race and religion, to rally and protest and mourn after tragedies. We also come together to celebrate and remember positive things like Martin Luther King's legacy. Evanston has been considered a progressive city with progressive residents and values. We've come together to protest injustice. We've rallied after Charlottesville, after the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, after the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, and the terrorist shooting of Black church-goers at Mother Emanuel in Charleston. But few white Evanston residents really know and acknowledge our own racial history and the quotidian racism that been a slow burn over many decades. We seldom own the privileges that we enjoy as a result of redlining, Jim Crow and other racism, both in law and in practice. And it seems like it's harder to come together over this kind of insidious racism than it following a particular vicious act or act of terror or violence. Do you believe that Evanston's reparations initiative offers an opportunity for us to come together across faith and race to to continue reparations happening in Evanston and also federally? RABBI ANDREA LONDON: Yes, I think that it is an important opportunity that we have in our community. You pointed out so powerfully that we're able to come together when something happens somewhere else. But when it hits close to home, sometimes it's a little more challenging, because then we have to really look inside. And we have to address our own culpability and what has happened in our community. And that's much more challenging, but also very important. And I think that coming to grips with the racist policies within our own community is important. So learning that history, understanding that history, and then making reparations, which is really taking responsibility for that history. That it's not just enough to say, Oh, yes, this happened, and now everything's okay. This happened. And we know that the Black community has suffered financially and in other ways because of discrimination. And when that happens, it's our responsibility to make reparations. And the reparations, I think, need to be both financial and truth and reconciliation--that we come to grips with the fact that we have had a racist past where racism still exists within our community. And that's much more painful and difficult to do it internally, but also very important. PASTOR MICHAEL NABORS: When you ask whether or not this is an opportunity for our community to come together, keep in mind, there are 100 or 1,000 entry points that people can make in this movement toward trying to repair damage. And reparations, of course, is one of those major entry points. It is, of course, the first step on a thousand-mile journey. We're talking in Evanston now about $10 million over a 10 year period, through resolution 126-R-19, through the City. And now we're talking about the Stakeholders Authority of Evanston (RSAE) raising more dollars. Well, we know in reality that there are not enough dollars in the world to make up for the kind of repair that needs to be done, because it's not just economic damage that was done. It's not just social damage that was done. We're talking about emotional damage and years and years of trauma being passed on from one generation to another. So there's psychological devastation that's going on. And of course, there's there's the dynamic of spiritual damage that has occurred as well. And what I love about our gathering together this afternoon, Nina, is that you have two clergy persons coming together representing faith communities. And the idea of us being able to come together is that we're looking at reparations in the largest perspective. So it's not it's not just money, but how can we truly improve our relations? And how can we forge our way into the Black community where so many generations of damage has been done, and begin to unpack that, and to move that away so that new generations will not have to bear the baggage of decades before?
Tom Mulhern: why I support reparations in Evanston
Tom Mulhern is a 25-year Evanston resident. He lives in the 8th ward. Here's why he contributes to Evanston's reparations fund. Please contribute as well: Go to bit.ly/RSAEFund -- Make your contribution -- In the "notes" section, mention MLK Day fundraiser (or my name). _____ Dear Evanston: Why do you believe that all white Evanston residents and white LED organizations and what predominantly white faith based organizations and members of those organizations should support reparations in Evanston? And why do you think that that the responsibility goes above and beyond the obligation of the municipal government? Tom Mulhern: To me it's kind of simple. There's a collective debt owed and it needs to be repaid. So the way that the United States was put together, capital and value and prestige and comfort have accumulated unequally along caste lines, for centuries, and in the United States that's wrapped up in our warped conceptions of race and racial attitudes across the board. In particular, racial attitudes toward the the descendants of the people we enslaved for at least half of those centuries. So it's a real debt with real consequences to opportunity and equality and power. And I just don't think, at the end of the day, you can repay that debt with lip service and nice words. If you aren't willing to acknowledge and pay your share of that debt, then all the nice words that you could speak are just empty. They're kind of phony and counterproductive. I guess that answer is not just about the responsibility of the so-called white people in Evanston; that answer would be about the entire United States, and maybe more broadly than that. As with anything fundamental, whether that's education or safety or health, you have to act first with the people nearest you. I don't think that acting locally gets in the way of acting globally or vice versa. I think the City's reparations initiative is very important. It's historic. It's an act of leadership. It is a way of our civic leaders across a pretty broad spectrum saying this is needed. At the same time, it's not nearly sufficient, and how could it be sufficient? But I think the City did specific harms of a specific type with specific impacts that were documented clearly. So that's where we go beyond the city fund. The rest of us families and individuals and companies did other harms and benefited from harms done by other people in Evanston. And those harms also need to be acknowledged and repaired -- and they should be repaired in ways that feel right and just to the people who were harmed or who inherited that harm. That's why I'm glad locally there is also the Reparation Stakeholder Authority [of Evanston] that's emerged, and that the state and national campaigns continue as well. The thing that persuaded me and triggered the first contribution I made to the effort directly from my bank account was a friend of mine who said, 'You know, America keeps kicking this can. It was during the summer of 2020. Can we keep kicking it down the road? We don't fix it. We don't do anything. And we retreated from the things we start to do -- things like reconstruction or the war on poverty -- and then we back away from them because they're uncomfortable, or difficultm or they move someone's cheese just a little too far. It was thinking, well, why do we keep keep kicking that can down the road? And how do you stop kicking a can down the road? And I think it just dawned on me that the way you do that -- you just act. And it may be imperfect, but it's just ... time. And you know, if not now, when. And if not me, who? It's a moral tax that's owed."
Kwanzaa Evanston 2021
Evanston celebrated the first of Kwanzaa's seven days on Sunday with a kinara candle-lighting ceremony at Fountain Square followed by Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Celebration at Robert Crown Ice Center. What was supposed to be a live event turned into a virtual event as Covid-19 cases soared in Evanston, but Tim Rhoze, artistic director of Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre and producer/director of both events pivoted perfectly to provide families at home a festive afternoon of dancing, drumming, and storytelling. The event was co-sponsored by FJT and the Evanston Public Library and was live-streamed on Facebook by Dear Evanston. Kara Roseborough, an outstanding dancer (and Tim's daughter) danced in front of kinara at Fountain Square and Tim offered a poem and explained the seven principles of Kwanzaa: umoja (unity); Kujichagulia (Self-Determination); Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility); Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics); Nia (Purpose); Kuumba (Creativity); and Imani (Faith). A few souls showed up to the Kinara lighting in person, including Evanston resident Karl Malachut and interim EPD Chief Richard Eddington. Many others watched the livestream from home. At Robert Crown a couple of hours later, Evanston resident and West-African drummer Tony Toneji Garrett opened the celebration with a rhythmic community drumming circle (find out about Tony here: tonytonejigarrett.com/home). CM Winters, of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority's Chicago chapter opened the event, which was emceed by Lucia Luckett-Kelly. Dr. Stephanie Davenport, a nationally renown storyteller and member of the Chicago Association of Black Storytellers explained Kwanzaa's symbols and told the story of the Seven Spools of Thread, accompanied by drummer by Ozivell Ecford. Colette Allen, who recently retired from her position as Executive Director of Family Focus Evanston and Jean and Larry Murphy, owners of YoFresh Yogurt, received awards for their dedication to the Evanston community. Stephanie Lane-Baker, a member of the African American Heritage and Genealogy Studies Circle of Evanston offered a poem she wrote and an incredible dance troupe rocked the proverbial house with African dance! If you missed the festivities, take the time to watch the recording--and make sure to share it with your kids! For more about Kwanzaa: nmaahc.si.edu/explore/stories/seven-principles-kwanzaa
Kwanzaa in Evanston Dec, 26, 2021
Kara Roseborough dances and Tim Rhoze welcomes Kwanzaa 2021 at the Kinara at Fountain Square. This is the second year the Kinara has been erected here and the second year Kwanzaa has been celebrated during the Covid-19 pandemic. The kinara was created by Evanston-based artist Eric Beauchamp. A few community members showed up in person for the event, with most staying home to watch. Interim Evanston Police Department Chief Richard Eddington came to watch the event live. Evanston Review reporter Karie Angell Luc asked Eddington if he was pleased to be back. "I enjoyed the work and it's a sense of duty to the community," he said. Following the candle-lighting ceremony, a virtual Kwanzaa celebration took place at Robert Crown Ice Center featuring West African drumming, storytelling, African dancing and community awards given to Colette Allen, recently retired from Family Focus Evanston and to Larry and Jean Murphy, owners of YoFresh Yogurt Cafe Evanston. A video of that event is forthcoming or can be watched on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/dearevanston/videos/478267937052357.
Dino Robinson Street Naming, April 3, 2021
Dino Robinson's family moved to Evanston in 1980 and he graduated from ETHS. Though he's lived here for more than 40 years, he acknowledges that, by Evanston's "strict standards," he's not considered a "true" Evanstonian. But last Saturday, April 3, with friends, community leaders, and residents to cheer him on, Robinson was recognized for his work uplifting Black history in Evanston and along the north shore with an honorary street designation at Church and Grey, on the block where he and his family live. As a young boy, Robinson learned about his family history from his grandparents when he'd visit them in South Carolina. He became hooked on history--particularly Black history. "Then as I grew older and started working in this community, I saw a rich, vibrant culture far beyond domestics and servants," Dino told the group gathered at Grey and Church. "I saw entrepreneurs, movers and shakers, people working hard despite the odds against them." In 1995, Dino went in search of information about Evanston's Black history at a local historical society. He found only three folders. They were all labeled "colored." And that's when he founded Shorefront Legacy Center and began his work archiving Black history and Black stories. Robin Rue Simmons, outgoing Alderman of Evanston's historically Black 5th ward, recommended the honor for Dino. In 2019, when Evanston passed the nation's first reparations initiative, which Rue Simmons introduced, it was Dino's research that provided information about the City's history of Jim Crow, from redlining to other racist and segregationist practices de facto and de jure. "What a special day," said Rue Simmons. "If not for Dino archiving our history, we would have had years of feasibilities and studies. Dino made it possible for us to accelerate repair and redress to the Black community that has sparked something in this nation." "Dino singularly is responsible for the cornerstone of the work that has allowed us to advance in this city, and create a sense of place for Black residents, a renewed pride and sense of community here in Evanston." Chip Ratliff, Shorefront's president, agreed. "Dino has a vision, so simple and so strong: Black history should be common knowledge." Dr. Gilo Logan, his wife Miah (a 14-year Evanston resident from Seoul, Korea), their three sons, and Gilo's father William Logan, who served as Evanston's first Black police chief, attended the celebration. One of Evanston's legacy families, William Logan's parents came to Evanston from Greenwood, South Carolina. Gilo's children are sixth generation Evanstonians. "My dad's father, William Logan, came with his mother when he was a child in 1905," Gilo explained. Gilo's maternal great-grandmother came to Evanston as child with her mother in 1895 from Windsor, Canada, and Gilo believes they descended from African Americans who had escaped enslavement through the underground railroad to Canada. The families were just one of hundreds of families fleeing lynching and other violence in the south. "This is a monumental day," said Marquise Weatherspoon, a community activist and Minister at Christ Temple Church, who also traces her family back several generations and who is running for D65 school board. "Dino has been a pillar of our community and we're finally getting a chance to honor all the work he's done," she said. For all the praise showered on Dino, when it was his turn at the mic he was--true to his usual demeanor--humble, and almost speechless. He thanked his parents, who were present for the occasion, for deciding to come to Evanston. He also thanked his wife Claudette for sticking by him through all the years, and hours or work, and stacks of paperwork on their dining-room table. Then he shared three stories about Black Evanstonians from history: -- Nellie Crawford, also known as Madame Sul-Te-Wan (1873-1959), who lived in Evanston in 1905, just off Benson Street in downtown Evanston. She became a professional movie extra and performed in more than 100 movies, including "Birth of a Nation." -- Captain Fred Hucherson, born in Evanston in 1912, at 1904 Asbury Ave. His father surprised him with his first airplane at age 17 and once landed it on Emerson Street. He was one of the first African-Americans to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. -- Dorothy Hadley, who lived with her family at 1729 Dodge, attended Foster School and graduated from ETHS. She married Malaku Beyen, nephew of Ethiopia's Emperor Hailie Selassie, in 1931 and moved to Ethiopia. Malaku and Dorothy Beyen founded a newspaper called 'Voice of Ethiopia' that served to both denounce Jim Crow in America and the fascist invasion in Ethiopia. "I'm just honored to be a part of this vibrant historic community that welcomed me with open arms and shared their personal stories, their lives, and their legacy, so that our future generations can learn from this," said Robinson.