“Long before the coronavirus outbreak shuttered businesses and locked down much of the US economy, and before the vulnerabilities within the economic system were laid bare by the pandemic, countless Chicagoans were living on the edge.” – Survival Economies: Black Informality in Chicago Informal workers have gained momentum in Chicago with the collaboration of Equity And Transformation (EAT) and its allies and partners. In May, in a 50 to 3 vote, state senators passed a bill that attempts to fix Illinois’ recreational cannabis law to bring in more diversity to the cannabis industry; and the Governor announced he would sign the legislation. Previously in January, EAT partnered with the UIC Center for Urban Economic Development to release “Survival Economics: Black Informality in Chicago.” EAT works to transform the narrative of engagement in the informal economy from one of criminality to survivability; one of the pillars of this intervention is to reduce othering and increase safety. Its focus now is on the need to expand equitable access to the opportunities that come with cannabis legalization, which have been mandated under Illinois law by ensuring that more Black and Latinx owners are included under legislatively-mandated cannabis dispensary lottery. The goal? To hold the State accountable by allocating cannabis tax dollars to the Will County Community, which has been marginalized by the War on Drugs, restoring hope to the disenfranchised neighborhoods. EAT also has its sights on the Breathe Act Illinois (H.B. 3643) and securing reparations for victims of the War on Drugs. Learn more about Executive Director Richard Wallace’s story and the work of EAT in our podcast – coming to you this summer!
Bringing Informal Workers into Chicago’s Economy