The VH1 digital documentary series “Growing Up Black: Chicago” premieres today.

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A VH1 documentary series that examines black American diaspora life in cities across the country now features an episode explaining the nuances of black life in Chicago.

“Growing Up Black: Chicago,” which aired Tuesday on VH1’s YouTube channel, features black Chicagoans from diverse backgrounds explaining their upbringing, generational trauma, Chicago stereotypes, racism, segregation, violence army, gentrification, Chicago’s impact on popular culture, and the many trials and tribulations associated with city life.

Some of the docusery’s fifth installment interview subjects include South Chicago rapper G Herbo; Grammy-winning songwriter Che “Rhymefest” Smith, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Triibe, Tiffany Walden; Trey White, WGCI-FM radio personality; six-time Grammy nominated singer and songwriter BJ The Chicago Kid; JaSaun Buckner, chairman of the board of directors of South Side-based dance studio Mayfair Academy, and activist and entrepreneur Ja’Mal Green, among others.

The episode also touches on some historical figures, including gang leaders Jeff Fort and Larry Hoover, educator and historian Margaret Burroughs, Chicago’s first non-Native settler, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, and Harold Washington, the the city’s first black mayor, as well as another legendary part of Chicago: the weather.

Harold Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor.
John H. White / Sun-Times

Each topic touches on the people who shaped their experiences and the changes they would like to see in the city.

For example, Smith describes Donda West, a Chicago State teacher and mother of rapper and producer Kanye West, as “one of the greatest teachers in my personal life,” and Walden, a West Side native, spoke of the lack of people of color – especially black journalists – in the city’s mainstream media demographics, while also demanding that the city stop treating the West Side as the “city’s ugly son-in-law.” White says the city’s mayor should be from Chicago. (Mayor Lori Lightfoot is from Ohio.)


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