Mariame Kaba was tired of hearing about Chicago’s violence problem. That’s what she told her friends in a Facebook posting shortly after the South Side teenager Hadiya Pendleton was fatally shot.
But she wasn’t too tired to listen to her friends share their feelings about it; in fact, she set up a voice message system to record their thoughts and many more, in the form of minute-long monologues.Two weeks and 120 minutes later, she had the ingredients for an audio collage of stories, lamentations, and opinions on how the city experience violence and responds to it.
She and a group of local artists and activists are unveiling that collection Wednesday evening at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum, in the form of an audio collage called Uproar Chicago.
Kaba, a restorative justice advocate and the founder of Project NIA, a nonprofit that opposes youth incarceration, said she hopes the collage will serve as both an agent of therapy and documentation for those touched by Chicago’s rash of homicides.
“What we heard in the calls was people saying literally, this is overwhelming; people expressing rage about what was happening,” she said. “And some people think Chicago is a beautiful city and that we can't forget that.”
“I am disgusted, I am angered, I am sad,” says one woman from near Beverley/Morgan Park in her voicemail. “I feel powerless as to what has happened and what is happening in the city of Chicago around violence. And I am not one to feel powerless. Something has to change."
In another voicemail, a woman from Pilsen laments, “People are so used to violence they don’t even think of it as an issue anymore.”
Kaba said the finished piece is about ten minutes long, but every response will be posted online later this year. After the piece is played tomorrow, visitors to the museum will be invited to participate in a “peace circle,” to discuss violence in the city and ways communities can overcome it, she said.
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