July 29, 2021

In Chicago, Lori Lightfoot reserved her recent interviews for journalists of color

The single-sex interview

Was it necessary to go through this to “Break the status quo” ? By announcing, on May 19, that she intended to reserve her interviews marking the second anniversary of her election as mayor of Chicago (Illinois) to journalists of color only, Lori Lightfoot opened in her own way a new controversy on racial discrimination to United States. In a letter to local reporters, the African-American mayor is outraged at the overrepresentation of white men in the city’s media. “I find this unacceptable. And I hope this is also your case ”, insists the mayor of a still segregated city, made up of a third of whites, a third of blacks and a third of Hispanics.

Read the portrait: In Chicago, Lori Lightfoot, a black and lesbian mayor assumed with a unique personality

The first African-American mayor

Her election in April 2019 marked a historic turning point: this then 56-year-old Democrat, new to politics, became the first African-American, homosexual, married to a white woman and mother of a little girl to take the lead of ‘a great American city. She was committed to fighting chronic corruption and insecurity in Chicago. Lawyer and former prosecutor, almost unknown to the population, she had especially marked the spirits in 2016, during the publication of a vitriolic report on the police of the city, of which she denounced “Systemic racism and the law of silence”. She had campaigned for “Inclusion and the end of the status quo”.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also “We may be in blue, we remain black”: the African-American police caught in the crossfire

Wary journalists

The conservative media have clearly denounced the ” racism “ by Lori Lightfoot, but her decision has above all caused a certain unease in the editorial staff and among journalists from minorities. The journalist of Chicago Tribune, a Latino who had been granted an interview without knowing the conditions, gave up questioning the mayor, believing that an elected woman did not have to choose her interviewers. The Black Journalists Association endorsed the call to diversify newsroom hires, without sharing the mayor’s method of promoting equality and inclusion. Others praised the mayor for opening “A difficult discussion”.

A mixed review

His statements are part of a context marked in recent months by debates on systemic racism and the “White privilege” that shook American society after the death of George Floyd. But some wanted to see Lori Lightfoot’s spectacular decision as a diversionary attempt to avoid facing a gloomy midterm record. Violence between gangs is mourning black neighborhoods at an unprecedented rate: since the start of 2021, 997 people have been shot against 718 last year and 495 in 2019; 187 died, 31 more than in the first months of 2020. Almost 3,600 weapons were seized, up 34%. This trend is common to several large American cities, but Chicago is particularly affected.

Read also: American police still lethal to blacks