1. Though Chicago and Baltimore are two cities that are far apart in the US, many in their African American communities share the same struggles: violence, racism and poverty.
  2. Baltimore made international headlines in April 2015 after 25-year-old Freddie Gray died of spinal injuries while in police custody. His death sparked riots across the city, and some areas suffered damages including a pharmacy in west Baltimore.
  3. Across the street from the burnt down pharmacy, the Enoch Pratt Free Library stands as a safe haven for many children in the community who try to escape violence and crime. Femi Oke sat down with Kristin Willis and her 13-year-old son Jordan Willis at the west Baltimore library to talk about the daily challenges they face in their neighbourhood.
  4. Baltimore is the largest city in the wealthiest state in the country, Maryland. But the city's child poverty rate is about 32.2 percent. And in 2015, there have already been 322 homicides making it the deadliest year in the city's history. Most of the victims are African Americans.
  5. Meanwhile in Chicago, protests erupted after city police released video of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald being shot 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke a year ago. Some have accused the city of trying to cover up the video, and they called for the mayor's resignation. The deaths of McDonald and Gray are some of the cases #BlackLivesMatter point to as systematic racism in the country's justice system.
  6. In Chicago's case, the city is reportedly the most racially segregated in the US. More than one third of all poor African Americans living in the city and surrounding area are "in high-poverty census tracts (where the poverty rate is about 40 percent)". Like Baltimore, Chicago saw a spike in homicides in 2015. According to police data, 78 percent of the victims were black.
  7. Malika Bilal spoke with two Chicago teens in Washington, DC on how they're dealing with the toxic stress.
  8. Many in The Stream community discussed the role of racism.
  9. But others looked to building confidence and bringing positive change as ways to combat the challenges black youth face in the country.
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