by Miranda Goosby

*An opinion piece on Black Life in Chicago, Summer ‘23

Wherever you go, there you are. Wherever we go, there we are.

The cultural geography of Chicago is steeped in celebration this summer. Every weekend since Juneteenth on Chicago’s South Side I hear a symphony of sound: fireworks ricocheting, youthful screams as the kids run free and communities organizing for their rights. Everyone’s brown skin reflecting and becoming the light, it reminds me of the summers I grew up on.

Ice pops, bbq’s, Garfield Blvd to Shady Grove Rd. The sunshine heals our hidden secrets, and we shed the awkwardness that became a familiar cloak in winter’s embrace, those wounds that have been bruised far too long in the cold. We all sit in the sun a little longer, drinking in that we’re here, we’re alive. We can breathe today.

I think of the memories of angels (like Malik) whose spirits join us on our morning walks daily.  Sitting here in ‘23 reminiscing on ‘99 and ‘03, feeling an auspicious sense of déjà vu. Chicago is a city where I grew up in my abolitionist politics. I’ve built and organized around centering the safety of Black women, femmes, queer and trans folks. I’ve grown to understand the histories of the blocks and neighborhoods, including why Woodlwan needs a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), and the deep history that lies on the West side. These are communities where struggle and celebration can live within the same sentence, same block, can happen in the same week. They live side by side here, siblings who know when to play their roles.

Relationships took shape this summer, through shared nudges as folks smiled and danced at their loved ones’ graduations, at the Juneteenth markets from the Dusable Museum to South Shore, this year’s Silver Room Block Party, the NASCAR races where Bubba Wallace hosted his inaugural Block Party, South Side Pride, the lake (Michigan), and Party Noire’s Black Pride amongst so much more. Chicago this summer felt like it was filled with life, filled with possibility and like the ghosts of those we love were celebrating with us, instead of us steeped in sadness because of their absence.

The city has become home to so many different folks I know who value the city’s life force, “ it’s community, and residents” who are fighting for Black and Brown lives who have been slain unjustly in our city’s streets like Rekia Boyd, Serabi Medina, Adam Toledo, Unique Banks, and many many more. Folks fight for, curse and have love for Chicago with the same energy and often in the same breath.

Summer ‘23, which is over now, has reminded us all that though there is constant chaos in this city we live in, there is also great hope, and a sense of home that travels with you wherever you go. Summer is often filled with movies in the park, staying out by the beach and watching the fireflies glow. It’s a city in its warm months that will always welcome you back, and allow you to reminisce on times past, and times you dream are to come.