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Lori Lightfoot declares racism a public health crisis and allocates $10M of COVID funding to fight it - weeks after she refused to be interviewed by white reporters

 The mayor of Chicago has declared racism to be a public health crisis, and allocated $10 million in COVID relief funding to combat it.

Lori Lightfoot announced on Thursday the new policy, aimed at reducing the glaring inequalities in the city's health. 

Earlier this week the city health department released data that showed black residents on average live 71.4 years, while non-black Chicagoans can expect to live 80.6 years.  

'When we think about racism, many of us think about its visible and audible forms,' Lightfoot said, standing in front of an exhibit honoring Martin Luther King Jr in the West Side of the city. 


Lori Lightfoot, the mayor of Chicago, is seen on Thursday announcing $10 million in COVID-19 relief spending dedicated to the public health crisis of racism. She spoke after it emerged earlier in the week that black Chicagoans lived on average nine years less than non-black

Lori Lightfoot, the mayor of Chicago, is seen on Thursday announcing $10 million in COVID-19 relief spending dedicated to the public health crisis of racism. She spoke after it emerged earlier in the week that black Chicagoans lived on average nine years less than non-black

'But the reality is, the insidious nature of systemic racism has other impacts that are every bit as deep and harmful but are often ones we can't see, like impacts on the psyche and other impacts on our bodies that are just as, if not more, deadly.'

She said that racism tells people they are not worthy.

'Ladies and gentlemen, it is literally killing us,' Lightfoot said. 


The city will designate six Healthy Chicago Equity Zones, where the $9.6 million in CDC money will be spent on trying to improve wellness and public health. 

Lightfoot is two years into her first term as the city's first black female mayor.

She spoke at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized Chicago's racial health disparities.

Chicago is not the first city to make such a move. 

Milwaukee County in Wisconsin in 2019 was among the first governmental entities to say racism was a public health crisis, and similar measures have been taken in cities including Denver; Columbus, Ohio; and Boston.

Chicago Public Health released a report earlier this week detailing disparities in health

Chicago Public Health released a report earlier this week detailing disparities in health

The map shows the areas, in darkest blue, with the highest concentration of black residents. The diagonal shading shows the highest concentration of economic hardship - showing that the two often go hand-in-hand

The map shows the areas, in darkest blue, with the highest concentration of black residents. The diagonal shading shows the highest concentration of economic hardship - showing that the two often go hand-in-hand

Lightfoot is attempting to turn the page from a series of high-profile actions that her critics said made her unfit for office. 

Earlier this week, she was attacked for sending a 'deranged' email to one of her female staffers, berating her for failing to scheduled enough 'office time'. 

The condescending message was sent by Lightfoot to her then-scheduler Taylor Lewis on January 28, but was only obtained by the Chicago Tribune this week. 

The paper was investigating reports of high staff turnover at City Hall when they uncovered the 'unhinged' email. 

The message included sentences which Lightfoot repeated more than a dozen times - apparently in order to really get her point across. 

ASSISTANT: The mayor's then-scheduler, Taylor Lewis, no longer works in the office, the Chicago Tribune reported

ASSISTANT: The mayor's then-scheduler, Taylor Lewis, no longer works in the office, the Chicago Tribune reported

'Since my prior requests are routinely ignored, I am now resorting to this: I need office time everyday! I need office time everyday! I need office time everyday!' Lightfoot raged in the e-mail. 

She repeated the same sentence a further 13 times, before writing: 'Not just once a week or some days, but everyday!'

Office time apparently refers, according to Lightfoot, to open time set aside for thinking on big-picture type issues that isn't clogged up with meetings or other obligations.

In the email, Lightfoot continued to patronizingly repeat each sentence she subsequently wrote.  

She signed off her message by writing: 'Have I made myself clear?!' 13 times times in a row. 

The message included sentences which Lightfoot repeated more than a dozen times in order to get her point across

The message included sentences which Lightfoot repeated more than a dozen times in order to get her point across

As of June, Taylor Lewis no longer works for Lightfoot. Her official position with the city was listed as 'Director of Scheduling and Advance.' She was a member of the mayor's 'Diversity Cabinet.' 

On Monday, Lightfoot attempted to explain away the email, saying it was 'born of frustration.'

'We got beyond that and solved the challenges that were at the heart of that email which was written five-plus months ago so I think we're in a better place,' she stated. 

However, the Chicago Tribune reports that there have been grumblings coming from City Hall about Lightfoot being a difficult boss to work for. 

According to reporter Gregory Pratt, City Hall is having difficulty hiring and retaining staff. 

In one instance, Lightfoot reportedly ripped up documents and sent staff a photo of it to illustrate her message, saying:  'I have asked nicely, now I am done.'

And last month, Lightfoot again angered people by announcing that she would only grant one-on-one interviews to 'black and brown' reporters to mark her two-year anniversary in the role.

The temporary policy sparked anger from reporters of all colors, but Lightfoot doubled down on her decision, insisting it was part of her lifelong battle for diversity and inclusion.

'I have been struck since my first day on the campaign trail back in 2018 by the overwhelming whiteness and maleness of Chicago media outlets, editorial boards, the political press corps, and yes, the City Hall press corps specifically,' she wrote in an open letter.

She called it 'unacceptable' that reporters covering City Hall were mostly white.

'Many of them are smart and hard-working, savvy and skilled. But mostly white, nonetheless,' she wrote. 

She lectured the Chicago media leadership to evolve and diversify, for fear that 'this arm of our democratic system is on life support.' 

Lightfoot is now being sued by a white Daily Caller reporter for racism. 

1 comment:

  1. The mayor of Chicago badly needs a career change..
    Incidentally, having scales is in the realm of fishes and reptile species, mammals, specifically humans have skin. The representation in that statue means what exactly... Go figure...

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