Although Illinois has historically been a Democratic state & voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 General Election, the US Congress from Illinois is made up of 2 Senators and 18 Representatives as follows:
2 Senators (Both Democrats)
NOTE: A Senator's term of office is six years. Approximately one-third of the total membership of the Senate is elected every two years.
18 Representatives (11 Democrats and 7 Republicans)
Note: Members of the House of Representatives serve two-year terms and are considered for re-election every even year.
More details at: Members of US Congress
2016 Election Results:
(Please click the link below to download a pdf of the data we've gathered)
Compiled by J. Lyzun
What is the Electoral College?
by Diana Piedra
Last night our local Unitarian Church hosted an Interfaith Unity Potluck Dinner. I am a single, 36 year old, mother of two, and the kids and I don't go out to dinner very often so we were excited. We grabbed some kale salad and our most hopeful hearts and drove to church.
Upon entering the very busy commons area I knew we were all in for a treat. Long tables were adorned with brightly colored shimmery table cloths. There were no paper plates or plastic silverware in sight, only real dishes and silverware for this sacred night. Each person came with a dish and placed it on the buffet style set up in the front of the room. The smells and colors created an ambiance and feeling of home within the hall. It felt like a very special version of Thanksgiving.
Strangers greeted each other warmly and hugs were flowing freely. My mother had invited us to this event as she attends this church weekly. The kids and I found mom and the four of us headed to grab a spot at the far table with a red table cloth. Soon enough we found ourselves surrounded by people we knew and we engaged in polite conversation as we waited for the start of the buffet line.
Reverend Tom Capo's voice sounded clear over the speaker system welcoming the group and asking us to find people to sit by who we didn't know. We rearranged ourselves and a beautiful Muslim woman wearing a purple hijab made her way to the chair next to me. Rev. Tom asked that prepare in our own unique way for a blessing of the food. He then read a beautiful prayer and we made our way to the dinner line.
To say the food was excellent is an understatement. Each dish was distinct and and so many of them I had never tried. There was everything from chicken curry to Mexican rice and eggplant Parmesan.
I learned about three religions during the dinner Judaism, Siqquism, and Islam. I met truly incredible people. The woman next to me was a Muslim, a wife, and a mother of 3 grown children. Her religion requires her to be a community contributor and help her neighbors (of any religion) if they are in need. She recently spent an entire day (morning to night) at her neighbors house who has four young children doing her piles of laundry and washing her dishes. She had noticed the new mom was crying outside and was feeling overwhelmed, so she showed up one day to show her loving support and genuine empathy. I learned that Sikhism originated in Punjab, India. The religious philosophy was a response to the caste system in India (circa 1400) because they wanted equality and believed that one God resides in all living things including plants and animals. The Sikh men wear and turban and grow their hair to show devotion to their beliefs. The Jewish gentleman spoke of his slow progression towards being an agnostic. He words were eloquent and heartfelt.
The Unity Dinner was a reminder that we all can connect with one another on so many things. Family, love, a desire for acceptance and prayer are just some of the universal concepts being discussed at our table. I left the hall holding hands with my two children and knowing that this gift would live on in all of our hearts. I would recommend having an Interfaith Unity Dinner in your area.
A Lasting Peace will be partnering with Alive Center in Naperville, Illinois on March 5th from 5:30-8:30pm for a special event and vegan potluck. U.S. Congressional Candidate and Professor of International Human Rights in Chicago, Benjamin Wolf will be the main speaker and proceeds from this event will support Hesed House, World Relief and Reclaim 13.
Help support the project (click on the images):
Diana Piedra feels she has always been an activist. Her heritage is half hispanic, the other half being a mix of German, Irish and English. Being hispanic made her feel she was not quite the same regardless of her family’s outward good fortune or popularity at school.
“I learned I could be popular and still be an outcast; made to feel inferior in some way,” she recalled. “I decided, I can be an outsider and it’s okay. I don't want anyone to have to feel this way. I’m not going to back down when it isn't fun anymore and I’m not going to just shove things under the rug. It’s going to take some bad ass warriors to make a difference in the world because we can’t just continue to gloss over controversial issues.”
Because of this heightened awareness coming from a multicultural family, she had a desire to fight for fairness. Spirituality had always been a strong force in her life, but still, became an unclear journey for her until she found yoga. Yoga gave her a space where she could pray with her whole body and everyone, from all different backgrounds, could come practice together and be accepted.
After the elections, Diana created A Lasting Peace. A Lasting Peace is virtual community based on an idea. It is the desire to create something sustainable and real in our society. Here especially in this part of the world there is a false sense that everything is perfect, she says.
“It isn’t perfect and it doesn't have to be. It is our rough spots and our differences that create the character of our culture and I believe we should celebrate all that,” Piedra states. “But there is animal abuse and sex trafficking and all kinds of real issues that need to be addressed. Refugees are not what we should be attacking at this time. Refugees are escaping places where these issues and worse are rampant. We need to stand behind the refugees and provide a safe place. I am compelled to bring forth injustices to create awareness and get people to act. Not to just throw money at a problem, but to humanize the issue. We call it a problem, but they are people.”
by Lorene Keller Smith
Walk a mile…
Just over a year ago, I was already heartsick about the political climate and the utter intolerance I was hearing from strangers and acquaintances and even friends. Somewhere online, I saw posts about women wearing a hijab to show support for their Muslim friends. So I decided to see what it was like.
I approached a fellow parent at my kids’ school who is a devout Muslim. I wanted to make sure it would not be insulting to wear this. She was very encouraging, and the next day, she gifted me both the scarf in the picture and a copy of the Koran. I have yet to read the Koran, unfortunately, but I did find a day to wear the hijab.
First I had to figure out how to wrap it. I started googling, and could not believe the amount of choices presented to me. There must be at least 100 different ways to wrap the scarf, including using foam pieces to create more height in back. And the variety of fabrics and colors was amazing as well. This can be as much a fashion statement as any we have in non-Muslim (western) culture. I settled on a wrap style that looked easier to replicate, made sure to cover all my hair, and went about my day as normally as possible.
My husband and I had to go shopping that day. We were both really nervous about going outside/in public with me dressed like this. This was about the time that people were first being accosted for wearing any kind of head covering, and we really were not sure what to expect. He must have asked me 50 times if I was sure about going out wearing this. I think we both half expected to end up in a fight before we got home (my husband is very protective of me).
We shopped at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and Target that day. The only person who even acknowledged my hijab was an elderly Muslim woman in Target who was wearing one also, and gave me the biggest smile and a head nod. Of course I did not poll anyone for their thoughts, and I do not know what they said out of range of us. We got home without issue, and I wore it around the house the rest of the day. My teenage daughter also dug out an extra scarf and tried it herself.
Oddly, I did not feel repressed or limited by it in any way. I would not choose to wear it all the time (does having a choice make it less repressive?), but the only thing I really felt was toasty warm! I am not sure how I would feel about it in the heat of summer, but in the middle of winter, it added a delicious warmth (I am always cold). I did not feel that it masked my personality in any way.
I am thrilled to see more hijabs represented in the mainstream, whether that is in sporting events or makeup advertisements. I also would like to try this again and see if I get other reactions. Anyone want to join me?
by Christina Davies
My name is Christina. I’m the mother of two boys. One’s eleven and one’s thirteen. We’re a diverse family. I’m half-Asian, half-Caucasian. My husband is blonde; my youngest son looks like his clone; and my oldest son is adopted and African American. We’re the poor man’s version of Angelina Jolie’s family.
The other day my oldest son Clayton is taking a walk along the river. We live in a pretty nice neighborhood right on the river. The neighborhood gets lots of attention when tour boats go by. My oldest son is a quirky kid, and he needs to have something in his hands to fidget with. He found these toy black plastic spy mirrors that elongate and contract on a hinge. He broke off the mirror, and likes likes to hold one handle in each hand, tapping them in the air like you’d gently tap a drum.
As my son takes a leisurely stroll along the River Walk behind our house, hyper focused on wiggling his fidgets as he goes, two police officers approach him. They ask him a few questions, and then want to talk to a parent. Clayton takes the officers home. He opens the front door. My husband Joseph is there in the family room, watching football. “Dad,” he says, “there’s somebody here to talk to you.”
Joseph gets to the door, sees the two officers, and watches their faces drop. Everybody knows my son wasn’t doing anything wrong. And now the officers need to explain to a White dad why his Black son was targeted.
“There’s been a complaint,” says one of the officers. “Someone on one of the tour boats thought your son had nun chucks. We’re sorry. These are obviously not nun chucks and he is obviously not dangerous, but had to respond. And when we found out he is a minor, we had to notify you as the parent.”
“I get it,” says Joseph. “You’re doing your job.” And that was that...
So many things this incident brought up for me. My first question was, are nun chucks illegal? Why is that a reason to call the cops? And what did the tourist on the boat think when they saw Clayton? Did the tourist imagine Clayton leaping and bounding off buildings and bridges into their boat to harm them? Or... was it that he was a Black boy in a neighborhood “too good” for Black people? Did they even see a boy, or did they see a Black hooligan? A Black hooligan who liked to take leisurely walks along the river with a pair of nun chucks: frightening.
There’s nothing about this story that shocked my husband. Joseph’s brother is also adopted and he’s bi-racial. My husband and his family survived several cross burnings on their lawn when he was a child. More than once, adult neighbors yelled that Joseph was a “nigger-lover” when he rode bikes with his brother down the street. Cops coming to the door isn’t anything new for Joseph. He’s been dealing with racism, as a White man, his whole life, all the way from the beginning.
But that’s the sad part, isn’t it? My husband will be fifty in a year and a half. For fifty years, he’s been dealing with a problem that isn’t making big enough strides. When we adopted Clayton, my husband was adamant that we raise him in the city, where there is a diversity of people, where Clayton can see Black male professionals everywhere – doctors, accountants, shop owners, servers. He wanted Clayton to see himself grow into a Black man who could be anybody he wants to be when he is an adult.
Until now, I didn’t realize just how important that is. ‘Of course, he should know he can be anybody he wants to be when he grows up!’ I used to think.
But now I see that society tells him... specifically him, and specifically every Black man... differently.
About the Author: Christina minored in writing at Northwestern University and has spent the last 22 years writing professionally in some capacity. She used to have her own blog that was featured in the Huffington Post, Yahoo News, and the New York Times. She enjoys expressing her thoughts and feelings through writing, and feels comfortable doing so online.