Mayor Lightfoot drew attention to a global reckoning on racism since the killing of George Floyd. She remarked that many of the media institutions in Chicago “have caught on and truly have not embraced this moment.” Photo courtesy of Black Press USA NNPA
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot declared that she successfully ran for office two years ago to break up the status quo she said was failing so many.
On the second anniversary of her historic landslide victory in an election runoff when she became the first Black woman and first openly gay person to hold the office in the Windy City, Mayor Lightfoot announced she would only do one-on-one interviews with journalists of color.
“It’s a shame that in 2021, the City Hall press corps is overwhelmingly White in a city where more than half of the city identifies as Black, Latino, AAPI, or Native American,” Lightfoot explained on Twitter.
“Diversity and inclusion are imperative across all institutions, including media. To progress, we must change.”
After a sweeping victory in which she garnered more than 74 percent of the vote to defeat Toni Preckwinkle and replace Rahm Emanuel, Lightfoot exhorted city residents that “we can and will finally put the interests of all of our people ahead of the interests of a powerful few.”
Having never previously held elected office, Mayor Lightfoot once headed Chicago’s police board and its police accountability task force that Emanuel established after the 2014 murder of Laquan McDonald.
McDonald, who was Black, was fatally shot by Jason Van Dyke, a White police officer.
Van Dyke, the first Chicago officer in more than 50 years to be convicted of murder in an on-duty shooting, shot McDonald 16 times.
In 2018, a judge sentenced Van Dyke to 6 years on nine months in prison.
Mayor Lightfoot has made gun violence a priority, and she noted the importance of speaking to journalists of color.
Her decision has sparked outrage in White media circles, but others applauded Mayor Lightfoot.
“With this outrage, y’all are implying that Black and Brown journalists aren’t capable of asking the hard questions,” the Chicago-based Black-owned media platform, The TRiiBE, tweeted.
Mayor Lightfoot drew attention to a global reckoning on racism since the killing of George Floyd. She remarked that many of the media institutions in Chicago “have caught on and truly have not embraced this moment.”
“The press corps is the filter through which much of what we do in government is dissected and explained to the public,” the mayor wrote in a memo.
“And yet, despite the many talents and skills of our reporting corps, I fear this arm of our democratic system is on life support. The Chicago media leadership must evolve with the times to be a true reflection of the vibrant, vast diversity of our city.”
The mayor continued with a Twitter post.
“We must be intentional about doing better. I believed that when running for office. I stand on this belief now. It’s time for the newsrooms to do better and build teams that reflect the make-up of our city.”