Press Release


Monthly meetings on Chicago’s West Side to feature UIC scholars
talking about current issues with community members

CHICAGO – The Public Square, in partnership with the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy (IRRPP) at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is pleased to announce a new series: “Shop Talk.” Building on our efforts to bridge the university and the community, “Shop Talk” will bring UIC scholars to Ron’s Barber Shop (6058 W. North Ave), in the heart of Chicago’s Austin neighborhood on the last Friday of every month from January to June 2010.  Each discussion will be free and open to the public.

Amid haircuts and fades, people from all walks of life—scholars, barbers, customers, and community members—will grapple with hard issues ranging from gender violence and immigration to criminal justice and access to health care. Based on the findings of their own research, scholars will discuss the connections between race, ethnicity, and public policy.

The first program in this series will take place on Friday, January 29 from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and will feature with UIC scholar Beth Richie, Professor of Criminal Justice and African American Studies and author of the new book, Compelled to Crime: The Gender Entrapment of Battered Black Women. The discussion is free and open to the public. Reservations are not required. The IRRPP will also provide a limited number of free books to discussion participants

For more information about “Shop Talk,” visit, email, or call 312.422.5580.

What people are saying about Shop Talk…
“A lot of people in this community may not have the opportunity to talk to scholars at UIC. This will give scholars and the community a chance to hear different views than what they’re used to about some very sensitive topics and issues. And definitely, here at Ron’s Barber Shop, we don’t have a problem talking.” –  Ron Gibson, owner and barber at Ron’s Barber Shop.

“By creating and fostering community sites of learning, we seek to share experiences, research, and knowledge. Scholarship and the exchange of ideas shouldn’t be limited to the university. Through ‘Shop Talk,’ we are building community and empowering ourselves to become shapers of history.” – Alice Kim, Director of The Public Square, a program of the Illinois Humanities Council.

“The classroom is not the only place where powerful learning and debate can happen.  We’re looking forward to sharing ideas, exploring what research means for improving daily life in Chicago, and learning from Shop Talk!” – Kevin Kumashiro Co-Director of the Institute for Research on Race & Public Policy at UIC.

About the IRRPP
The Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy (IRRPP) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) promotes, coordinates, and conducts innovative research at the intersection of race, ethnicity and public policy. IRRPP represents a major commitment on the part of UIC to better understand racial and ethnic diversity in Chicago, the nation, and the world. The Institute pursues a comprehensive multiracial, multiethnic and multicultural agenda that includes African Americans, Latinos, American Indians, Asian Americans and other groups confronted with systematic racial, ethnic, and class barriers. A primary goal is to improve both the understanding and conditions of underrepresented racial and ethnic groups that continue to experience major difficulties within contemporary urban settings.

About The Public Square
The Public Square, a program of the Illinois Humanities Council, fosters debate, dialogue, and exchange of ideas about cultural, social, and political issues with an emphasis on social justice. Programs promote participatory democracy by creating space for public conversations. More information about The Public Square is available at

The Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) is a nonprofit educational organization [501 (c) 3] dedicated to fostering a culture in which the humanities are a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities.  Organized in 1973 as the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the IHC creates programs and funds organizations that promote greater understanding of, appreciation for, and involvement in the humanities by all Illinoisans, regardless of their economic resources, cultural background, or geographic location. The IHC is supported by state, federal, and private funds.

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