Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot is granting reporters of the Black and brown diaspora an exclusive opportunity and expectedly garnered backlash from many including conservative provocateur Candace Owens. On Wednesday, May 19, the city’s first Black female mayor released a statement confirming that henceforth she will accept one-on-one interviews only with Black and brown journalists, tying the announcement to the two-year anniversary of her inauguration.
That following day, the politician took to social media to explain the reasoning behind the move in a series of posts, stating, “I ran to break up the status quo that was failing so many. That isn’t just in City Hall. It’s a shame that in 2021, the City Hall press corps is overwhelmingly White in a city where more than half of the city identifies as Black, Latino, AAPI or Native American.
Mayor Lightfoot noted the importance of diversity and inclusion, stating, “In order to progress, we must change.” The 58-year-old inserted that because of that goal, she would be “prioritizing media requests from POC reporters.”
She continued, “This is an imbalance that needs to change. Chicago is a world-class city. Our local media should reflect the multiple cultures that comprise it.” Mayor Lightfoot concluded her statement by saying, “We must be intentional about doing better. I believed that when running for office. I stand on this belief now. It’s time for the newsrooms to do better and build teams that reflect the make-up of our city.”
The announcement garnered an array of emotions. Some supported Lightfoot on her decision, including one Twitter user who wrote, “People b-tching about Lori Lightfoot only taking questions from Black or brown reporters, but had nothing to say when Dummy only took questions from right wing media like Fox News. When he did take questions from Black women, he tried to berate and disrespect them.” They added, “Shut up.”
“Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is reportedly only giving interviews to black or brown reporters. White reporters are fuming — but then again — that’s their privilege coming out,” wrote radio talk show host Todd Starnes.
Meanwhile, others, predominately white reporters and critics, were furious. Andrew Pollack, an author whose daughter was killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida in 2018, wrote, “Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is more worried about the color of a reporter’s skin than the 13 people shot and 3 killed in her city yesterday.”
Then there were Black people who disapproved of the move as well, including Black conservative political commentator Candace Owens. The author accused Lightfoot of being a racist, stating, “Imagine if there was a white politician who said that he refused to speak with ANY black journalists.” Owens claimed that “The Left sees racism everywhere except where it actually is.”
Florida Republican candidate for Congress Lavern Spicer commented, “Lori Lightfoot is only granting interviews to ‘black and brown’ reporters from now on.” She added, “Isn’t there a word for that, and didn’t people OF ALL RACES fight and march to get rid of her kind of thinking? 🤦🏾♀️”
Despite the backlash, Lightfoot defended the move. She further called out publications whose newsrooms lacked diversity, telling WGN’s Tahman Bradley, “So here I am, like so many other Black women before me, having to call your attention to this problem.” She added, “I have no power to make you change, but I hope that you will not just cover and express your opinion about the great and historic racial awakening that is rippling across all parts of our society. I hope that you too will see it for the opportunity that it is and embrace it by reflecting the change across your organizations.”