Shanghai: Masterpost

By Guan Tan.

  1. The Invisible City of Shanghai
  2. Huangpu River: Between the East and the West
  3. Moving Upstream: Dealing with Shanghai’s Polluted Waters
  4. Growing Green?: Shanghai’s ‘Green’ Agenda
  5. Shanghai: A City of Migrants
  6. The ‘Left-Behind Children’: Shanghai’s Role in Children’s Identities
  7. Beyond An Eco-Dictatorship: Sorting Out a New Definition of ‘Waste’ in Shanghai
  8. Goodbye For Now, Shanghai


Goodbye until we meet again…

Hi and welcome to my last blog! Congrats you made it!

It sounds surreal that our journey through the streets of Chicago finally comes to an end. Though this experience has taught me a lot and opened a new perspective for me of seeing nature in the cities and cities as a part of nature. The metaphor of urban metabolism has allowed me to look for links and connections that may not be noticable straightaway between the social, political, environmental etc. issues.

Throughout this blog we were able to see and analyse the power relations still persistent in the modern Chicago and the adversities experienced by certain social groups because of the unjust use of the. However, we have also seen cases were the governments and communities were able to fix problems in many of the situations when the metabolic link was broken in the city.

COVID-19 and the city (part 2)

This piece is a continuation of my previous blog

Another reason for the increased amount of cases among Blacks and Hispanics is housing. The population density in minority-majority areas is high, and thus it is challenging for people living there to maintain social distance. Moroko’s (2020) research showed that Chicago had 2.8 people per household in hot spots (clusters of zip codes with a higher number of cases) and 2.0 in cold spots (clusters of zip codes with a lower number of cases).

A major reason for the increased COVID-19 related deaths among the Latin and Black population is hypertension and diabetes. According to a Northwestern Medicine study, African Americans have a risk of diabetes twice higher than the Whites, disease directly linked to obesity. The number of people with diabetes among Black youth is growing every year. This is due to the lack of access to healthy food and safe places for physical activity, and the lack of financial ability to provide better living conditions. Figure 3 shows the numbers and rates of Diabetics in 2018 in Chicago by race.

Figure 1. A table of Numbers and Rates of Diabetics in 2018 in Chicago by Race (source:

Measures taken to improve the situation

In April, Mayor Lightfoot joined community organizations to form the Racial Equity Rapid Response Team (RERRT), which would focus on African American and Latin American neighbourhoods. This organization promptly delivered personal protective equipment to the most affected areas of the city. Families received thousands of door hangers and postcards about COVID-19. In predominantly Hispanic neighbourhoods, RERRT provided information on COVID-19 in two languages.

These measures made it possible to somewhat improve the situation in the majority-minority areas. But still, the level of spread of the disease there remains high.

On December 15, the vaccination program was launched. The latest data from an official website of the City of Chicago showed that the progression of the vaccinations were better among White population (52.9%), while vaccinations of Chicago’s BAME population are progressing at a slower pace: Blacks 15.2%, Hispanics 17.2%, Asians 14.3 %.

In the series of two blogs, we looked at the dependence of the ethnicity on the spread of COVID-19 in Chicago, showing that the neighbourhoods of Chicago, where the predominantly BME population live, are at the greatest health risk. Efforts are being made by the city government and civil society organizations to reduce this dependence. Still, considering the scale of the problem, it requires a more systemic and thorough approach than the applied pinpoint efforts.


Maroko, A. R., Nash, D., & Pavilonis, B. T. (2020) ‘Covid-19 and Inequity: A comparative spatial analysis of New York City and Chicago hot spots’, Journal of Urban Health97(4), 461-470.

COVID-19 and the city (part 1)

Lion statue with a mask in front of the Art Institute of Chicago (source:

“All COVID did was plant itself into the social fault lines that pre-existed,” – David Ansell, author of the book, The Death Gap: How Inequality Kills, and a physician at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

It was the beginning of last year, 2020, when we first heard about novel coronavirus, while still celebrating the start of the new decade, spending time with friends, going to work and planning summer trips. Back then, even as the cases were going up in Wuhan (the epicentre of the first outbreak of COVID-19), we didn’t imagine it would ever reach us and affect our lives in the way that it did (Velavan, 2020). A year later, it is now January 2021, and the number of the COVID-19 cases just surpassed 100,000,000. It’s been a challenging year, to say the least, many people lost their jobs, their businesses, their loved ones. Everyone has been affected, but some have been affected more than others. The communities of colour were the ones affected disproportionately by the pandemic. In this blog, I will take an example of Chicago and look at how the pandemic has affected the minorities shedding light on racial inequalities.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the racial composition of the areas in Chicago with the greatest prevalence of Covid-19 cases was as follows: approximately only 4% Non-Hispanic (NH) White, 11% Latinx / Hispanic, and nearly 83% NH Black (Maroko et al., 2020). Furthermore, the COVID-19 death rate among the Black population in April 2020 was 5.4%, compared with 2.2% among NH Whites. Since then, the percentage of Covid-19 cases and deaths among Black residents has decreased, but it still remains higher than that of the White population.

Let’s look at Figures 1 and 2. We’ll see that the largest number of cases and deaths still occur in the Northwest, West, Southwest and South regions, precisely in the areas with the predominantly Black and Hispanic population.

Why were people of colour affected the most?

One of the reasons for people of colour having a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 is living in poor neighbourhoods with underdeveloped infrastructure and little to no affordable medical care. This type of settlement originates from the Great Migration (1910-1970) when millions of African Americans left the racist South and settled in cities like Chicago. However, even then they were allowed to live only in certain areas. And, if in the beginning people managed to find jobs at large enterprises in the Southern and Western parts of Chicago, later these enterprises began to close or move their production to the suburbs or abroad. Following them, many small businesses such as cafes and gas stations have closed down. The Black middle class moved to other cities in search of work. The result of this was the reduction of the already low investment in these areas of the city. Today, there is little to no access to health care in poor majority-minority areas. About 1 million residents live half a mile from the pharmacy in the South and West of Chicago. According to the government data, the life expectancy of Blacks and Hispanics in Chicago is, on average, 17 years less than that of Whites.

To be continued…


Maroko, A. R., Nash, D., & Pavilonis, B. T. (2020) ‘Covid-19 and Inequity: A comparative spatial analysis of New York City and Chicago hot spots’, Journal of Urban Health97(4), 461-470.

Velavan, T. P., & Meyer, C. G. (2020) ‘The COVID-19 epidemic’, Tropical medicine & international health, TM & IH25(3), 278–280.

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