Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) sent a shocking letter to the press on Wednesday defending her decision to only speak to reporters of color moving forward and slamming the “overwhelming whiteness and maleness” of the press in the Illinois city.
Lightfoot, who was both the first black woman and openly gay mayor in the history of Chicago, gushed about her own 2019 election in the letter. She said she was “breaking barriers” before hitting out at the Chicago media for not adequately addressing “institutionalized racism” in their ranks.
Lightfoot went on to claim that her choice to only speak to reporters of color is just part of the battle she’s fought all her life for diversity and inclusion.
“In looking at the absence of diversity across the City Hall press corps and other newsrooms, sadly it does not appear that many of the media institutions in Chicago have caught on and truly have not embraced this moment,” the Democratic mayor wrote, according to Fox News.
“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 added.
Not stopping there, Lightfoot boasted about the diversity in Chicago leadership, including the “majority Black and Latinx City Council,” before calling it “unacceptable” that most reporters covering City Hall were White.
“Many of them are smart and hard-working, savvy and skilled. But mostly white, nonetheless,” she wrote.
Lightfoot then called on the Chicago media to diversify, saying that she fears that “this arm of our democratic system is on life support.” She also claimed that she has heard concerns from “Black and Brown community leaders” about media bias, but she has stayed quiet out of fears of being accused of playing the race card.
“This isn’t my job. It shouldn’t be,” she wrote. “I don’t have time for it. But as with so many festering problems, it has only gotten worse with time. So here I am, like so many other Black women before me, having to call your attention to this problem.”
Lightfoot concluded her letter by telling Chicago media outlets that if they send a white reporter to City Hall, “make sure there’s a person of color working with them as well.”
This piece was written by James Samson on May 21, 2021. It originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.
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