Here's Why Chance The Rapper Showed Up At A Chicago City Council Meeting

Spoiler alert: He wasn’t there to perform.

Chance the Rapper is quickly vying for the title of “People’s Champ.” The 24-year-old emcee has already shaken up the music world, taking home a Grammy earlier this year for Best New Artist despite giving away his music for free and releasing a streaming-only album. Chance, born Chancelor Bennett, is an astute businessman, inking deals with Apple and Kit Kat, while eschewing a major record label and remaining independent. While many have come to respect his hustle, Chance’s passion for public education is what makes him really stand out.

After pledging to donate $1 million to Chicago Public Schools back in March, Chance’s nonprofit, SocialWorks, raised $2.2 million for his hometown’s schools. His contributions didn’t stop there, however. The rapper has been outspoken about how Illinois’ budget woes have affected Chicago’s public schools, and he even met with Gov. Bruce Rauner to discuss funding. Recently, Chance showed up at a city council meeting to register his opposition to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to spend $95 million on a new police training facility.

During the hearing, Chance questioned the judgment of allocating nearly $100 million on the facility when the city doesn’t have enough funds for other social services.

“What is y’all doing?” the rapper asked the council.

“Financially, this proposed plan doesn’t make sense. We don’t have $95 million,” Chance said. “There’s a lot of different services that need to be funded.”

According to Reuters, Chicago is projected to have a budget deficit of $114.2 million in 2018. While Emanuel’s proposed spending plan aims to pay down the city’s debt, it also includes a proposal to spend heavily on hiring 500 new police officers and building the new training facility. Chicago’s homicide rate (which is not the highest in the nation) has become a political football over the years, but community activists, including Chance, think it could be lowered by investing in the city’s young people, not its law enforcement efforts.

“Obviously schooling is my big thing, but there are a lot of ways to transform the city that don’t have anything to do with police training,” Chance said during the meeting. “I’ve been asking for money for over a year now to fund these classrooms and, on 4th of July weekend, they announced in like a cool financing way that ... they’re proposing to build a $95-million cop academy.”

Despite Chance’s plea to the council to consider investing in Chicago in other ways, the city’s aldermen approved moving forward on the project by a margin of 48 to 1. Still, Chance has vowed to keep fighting.

Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

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