Chicago mayor: Racism is a public health crisis, It is "literally killing us"

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has declared that racism is a public health crisis. In doing so, she is allocating $10M in COVID-19 relief funding to combat it. Lightfoot said Thursday that the new policy is aimed at reducing inequalities in the city’s health system.

This declaration by Mayor Lightfoot comes on the heels of a report released by the city’s health department. Data shows that black residents live 71.4 years on average, compared to non-black Chicagoans who live 80.6 years on average. The 2021 Data Brief is titled “The State of Health for Blacks in Chicago”. For background, The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) set out to “amplify” black voices within the department. Five black women formed a working group called the Health Equity Index Committee (HEIC). Their goal is to present data analysis, community engagement, and research to “define, measure, analyze, and discuss health and health equity for black Chicagoans.” Life expectancy of black Chicagoans is 9 years less than non-black Chicagoans.

The current life expectancy among Blacks is more than nine years lower than that of non-Blacks. In 2020 CDPH launched Healthy Chicago 2025, a citywide plan to reduce the racial life expectancy gap with strategies that tackle the root causes of health. We build on Healthy Chicago 2025 by digging deeper into health conditions that drive the gap.

This is especially relevant now, as the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the legacy of systemic racism in the city of Chicago. Underfunded community hospitals and clinics, lower wage jobs that do not allow teleworking, unstable or crowded housing, limited grocery store access, and lack of technology for students are causing
Blacks and Black communities to be adversely impacted by this deadly virus (Marshall, 2020).

To address the historical and present forms of racism, systematic exclusion, and sources of toxic stress that prevent Black Chicagoans from achieving health equity, we are calling “the village” to action. Members and allies of the Black community—public health professionals, health care providers, community advocates, policy makers, business owners, artists, students, and community residents —must join forces to address and eliminate these critical health inequities and their underlying causes. Only then, will the color of the person’s skin no longer determine how long they live or their quality of life.

In response, Mayor Lightfoot said the city will designate six Healthy Chicago Equity Zones. These zones will receive $9.6M in CDC money to try to improve wellness and public health.

One glaring reason for the higher death rate of black people in Chicago is the homicide rate. The homicide rate among blacks is 9 times higher than the rate among non-blacks. COVID has nothing to do with that, as it is not a new problem brought on by the coronavirus in 2020. Mayor Lightfoot, like her predecessors, has utterly failed the city when it comes to public safety. Black-on-black crime, including homicide, is running rampant. Black males in Chicago, according to the report, commit 114.2 homicides per 100,000 population. The rate for all blacks is 57.4. The rate for non-blacks is 6.2, while for black females the rate is 9.5. Again, this has nothing to do with the coronavirus. Mayor Lightfoot does what many Democrats do, use the term ‘racism’ as a default cause for problems they cannot solve. Using COVID funds to ‘solve’ racism makes it look like she is using the government funding as a slush fund.

It’s been a rough week for Lightfoot and this latest declaration is likely meant as a distraction from some bad headlines that show her lack of leadership skills. She is accused of sending “deranged” emails to staff, including her now former scheduler. Her staff has a high turnover rate at City Hall.

Last month she angered journalists by announcing she would only grant one-on-one interviews with “black and brown reporters” to mark her two-year anniversary as mayor. Apparently the mayor is racist herself.

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.’

A white Daily Caller reporter is suing Lightfoot for racism.

Lightfoot turned down President Trump’s offer to send federal help for the homicide crisis Chicago faces. She turned him down, of course, because Orange Man bad but it is her city’s residents that pay the price for her blindly partisan actions. Now that there is a Democrat in the White House, suddenly she is speaking out and asking for federal help. She is using the trope of a need for stricter gun control as an excuse to avoid blame for lawlessness in the city. Tuesday, eight people were shot and four died in one incident. She said Chicago is part of a “club of cities” that is experiencing mass shootings.

The mayor then argued that cities cannot do enough on their own to stop the violence before calling on the federal government for help.

“Cities individually cannot tackle this problem. We just cannot. In Chicago, we’ve done absolutely everything possible, and we need help from the federal government,” Lightfoot said. “When guns are so porous that they can come across our borders as we see every single day in Chicago, we know that we have to have a multi-jurisdictional, national solution to this horrible plague of gun violence.”

Tuesday’s violent shooting was just one of several violent events that plagued Chicago over a weekend that saw a total of 43 people shot. That number actually represented a decrease from the previous weekend, when 55 people were shot in the city.

Homicides were up 22% through May in Chicago over last year’s numbers, even though 2020 had already seen a 50% rise in murders compared to 2019.

What the mayor fails to acknowledge is that Chicago has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. Criminals don’t pay attention to laws. Lightfoot does what Democrats do after gun violence deaths, they call for more gun control. If more laws were the magic solution, Chicago would be a very safe city. It already has a ban on ‘assault weapons’ and prospective gun owners must go through a strict process including a background check.

COVID-19 funding money won’t solve the runaway crime rate in Chicago, nor will it stop the continual rise in the homicide rate. Racism can’t be blamed for the homicide rate.