February 20, 2024

Chris Geovanis - Presente!

Photo of Chris and myself, taken on September 23, 2023. This was our last picture together.

On February 12, 2024, I lost a great friend of mine, Chris Geovanis. On the occasion of her wake, on February 18, 2024, I shared some remarks about Chris and our time together which I also share here.

I first met Chris in 2001, when I asked to join the Chicago Independent Media Center. We would both work with CIMC, Chicago Indymedia, for the next twelve years, providing coverage to activist efforts in a wide range of causes and helping highlight unreported and underreported stories ignored or suppressed by the major media. Chris' contributions were legion -- working in article writing, feature writing, interviews, photography, contributing as well to CIMC's radio program "From The Trenches", and even as a host of multiple episodes of "Chicago Independent Television", Chicago Indymedia's television series.

Many folks have praised Chris for her deep and consistent work for Palestine. Indeed, Chris' first arrest came on November 2, 2002, as a result of a protest for Palestine. At the conference of the group Chicago Media Watch, film producer Sut Jhally wanted to discuss his film about Palestine called "Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land". Some conference organizers in response forced onto the conference lineup a hack from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Chris took it upon herself to respond to this sudden change publicly with justified outrage, leading to her expulsion from the conference and to her later arrest, but also galvanizing the creation, as she called it, of "a new group".

That new group became Chicago Media Action, which I also joined and which worked over the next eleven years on a host of media-themed efforts, including fights over media ownership concentration, network neutrality, and community internet; researched critique of local media outlets; and the support and establishment of independent media outlets. Chris herself bowed out of the group early in its work, but the group would never have formed nor would have worked as hard and as long and as successfully as it did, had it not been for Chris. That work continues still; in 2022, to mark the 20th anniversary of Chris' courageous action, I brought back Chicago Media Action as a monthly newsletter now online at chicagomediaaction.org

Chris was also a great friend. Last year [2023], when I got the chance to play on National Public Radio's Sunday Puzzle, Chris texted me during the broadcast: "Listening to you on radio -- you are crushing it!!" In July last year [2023], when I discussed with Chris that Chicago would play host to the Grant Park 220, the very first street course race in the history of NASCAR, and I asked Chris for her opinion on the sport and the event, Chris' response was succinct: "Fuck NASCAR". Chris also shared with me the "secret" plan she and four compatriots had where they would all adopt one another so that they could play as a team on the game show "Family Feud".

One more thing: Chris, as you know, also worked for the Chicago Teachers Union and it was on April 4, 2023, that a former teacher and organizer with the Chicago Teachers Union, Brandon Johnson, won the Chicago mayoral runoff. That day, April 4, was also Chris' birthday, and I took occasion the next day to send her a text saying "You got one hell of a birthday gift." Chris replied "Right!!!"

We grieve, we mourn, for our dear Christine. Take the time to grieve, to mourn, and then let us continue the work for a better tomorrow and a better world, to follow in the valiant example of our dear Christine.

Chris Geovanis, presenté!

Thank you.