New Publications Profile Chicago Region's Ethnic and Immigrant Communities and Help Mainstream Navigate Illinois' Changing Demographics

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The Chicago Area Ethnic Handbook and the Directory of Chicago Area Ethnic Organizations and Media are packed with data, facts and insider information about the immigrant, ethnic, racial and cultural communities in the Chicago metro area and are designed to help everyone learn about the region's diversity. Includes information for Cook, DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Will counties and beyond. Available now at

As the nation focuses on immigration reform and the growing diversity of the electorate, how well do Chicagoans know the facts and figures about the ethnicities that make up the city and state’s population? To help folks quickly and easily navigate this complex terrain, Chicago Area Ethnic Resources (CAER) has just released two unique resources: The Chicago Area Ethnic Handbook and the Directory of Chicago Ethnic Organizations and Media are essential “companion” tools for anyone seeking to understand diversity in the metro area. Now available at

The Handbook contains easy-to-read chapters on 37 of the region’s most prominent immigrant and ethnic groups—the newcomers and established groups—from African American to Vietnamese. The Directory contains listings and descriptions of more than 350 organizations and media. Both publications focus on populations in Chicago and Cook, DuPage, Will, Kane, McHenry and Lake counties. Population numbers include parts of Wisconsin and Indiana as well.

The Ethnic Handbook is packed with data, facts and “insider information” including the latest census population numbers demographic breakdowns, migration patterns, histories, religions, holidays, political participation, foods, names, health concerns and issues for the community.

Each chapter is written by a scholar or community expert and each can be read in 10 minutes or less. It is format that readers love, that lets people seek out the information they are looking for. “This material can often be cumbersome and difficult to absorb,” said editor Cynthia Linton, who also teaches journalism at Northwestern’s Medill School. “We wanted to provide people across the spectrum with useful information that isn’t overly academic. Our goal was to make learning about our community’s diversity both fun and engaging.”

“The feedback has exceeded our expectations,” said Jeryl Levin, president of Chicago Area Ethnic Resources. The market for the Handbook is broad, ranging from business leaders to policy makers to high school and college classrooms, libraries, museums and curious individuals. It was a challenge to present a scholarly document that people would find accessible, but we succeeded.”

Readers of the Handbook will discover that while 40 percent of immigrants in Illinois are from Mexico, 60 percent hail from the rest of the world including Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, Africa, South America, and the Middle East.

“We tend to lump everyone together in one of six racial groups for political reasons, but within those groups exist profound cultural differences (and many similarities), unique histories and characteristics,” said Levin “Hispanics can be Guatemalan, Puerto Rican, Mexican or Cuban…Asian Americans can be Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Indian, Pakistani, Vietnamese or Cambodian…African Americans can be native born or Haitian, Nigerian or Ethiopian or from many other African countries.

A chapter on Muslims incorporates many ethnicities, from Pakistani to Bosnian to Palestinian. This religious group is among the most misunderstood and most racially diverse in America. There is also a chapter on Jews, who are often perceived as an ethnic group more than as a religion.

Twelve percent of the immigrants in Illinois in 2011 come from Europe. The Chicago region has long been an immigration hub, so groups that have been here for generations like Germans, Italians, Irish and Swedes are included in the Handbook. “Many Chicagoans are proud of their ethnic roots, and don’t think of themselves as just ‘white people’,” said Levin.

To learn more about the Chicago Area Ethnic Handbook and the Directory of Chicago Ethnic Organizations and Media and to order your copies, go to

For more information or to schedule an interview with the editor, publisher or contributors, contact Jeryl Levin at or 847-224-6360

About Chicago Area Ethnic Resources:
Chicago Area Ethnic Resources (CAER) is a not-for-profit organization that publishes information about the metropolitan area’s diverse communities. Founded in 2008 by members of the former Illinois Ethnic Coalition, CAER works with scholars and community leaders to improve understanding about the many groups that call our region home. To date, it has released two highly regarded and unique resources: The Chicago Area Ethnic Handbook and the Directory of Chicago Area Ethnic Organizations and Media.

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