Opinion | Black Women in Chicago, Getting Things Done – Smart Media Magazine

Opinion | Black Women in Chicago, Getting Things Done


On Monday, Chicago will make history when Lori Lightfoot becomes the city’s first black female mayor. This victory sits alongside other firsts: her recent runoff against Toni Preckwinkle, a black woman and the president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, and the 2016 election of Kim Foxx, a black woman, as the city’s top prosecutor.

Last year, when Rahm Emanuel announced he wouldn’t seek a third term as mayor, no one thought Ms. Lightfoot would win. In Chicago, activists have long understood that they may not get what they want in a mayor: It seemed to be an intractable problem, one among many others — like police violence, school closings, unfair wages.

But problems that once seemed intractable are changing. Ms. Lightfoot’s victory is part of a broader trend of black women emerging as the most influential political voices in the city. Black feminists, in particular, are securing progressive victories in a place where that long seemed impossible.

Consider some wins: In May 2015, Chicago became the first city in the country to award reparations to people who survived police torture during the 1970s and ‘80s.

At the end of the day, these women are fighting for something simple: freedom. “We are disproportionately poor and disproportionately sick,” said the noted organizer Mariame Kaba, who now lives in New York. “If you unravel all the compounding ways we are discriminated against, you do that for everyone else, too. If we’re free, everybody else is free.”



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