Chicago mayor will spend $9.6M in COVID relief cash to fight ‘public health crisis’ of racism

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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who recently refused to be interviewed by white journalists, has declared racism a public health crisis — and is using nearly $10 million in federal COVID-19 relief cash to fight it.

“At almost every point in our city’s history, sadly, racism has taken a devastating toll on the health and well-being of our residents of color, and particularly those who are black,” Lightfoot said Thursday.

“And ladies and gentlemen, it is literally killing us,” she said, standing in front of an exhibit honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

“That’s why I am declaring racism as a public health crisis,” she said.

She highlighted recent data that black Chicagoans live an average 9.2 years less than others. The “racial life expectancy gap” was due to chronic diseases, homicide and opioid overdoses, the city said.

Lightfoot said “80 percent of health outcomes” are due to factors that have all “been impacted by systemic racism,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“That’s why we’re making this declaration today. Because we can no longer allow racism to rob our residents of the opportunity to live and lead full, healthy and happy lives,” she said.

Lightfoot — the Windy City’s first black mayor — highlighted her own parents’ unrealized dreams as proof that systemic racism impacts the body and the mind in ways that are “just as, if not more, deadly.”

It “puts a cap on someone’s humanity,” destroys their “perception of themselves” and leaves them with “lasting mental illness, such as depression, anxiety and anger that turns into physical ailments,” she said, according to the Sun-Times.

“My parents, like so many others of their generation and other generations, were indoctrinated to believe that they would never, ever be able to reach for and accomplish their dreams,” she said.

“This was and still is the case for far too many black residents and residents of color in our city.”

The pandemic “laid bare a lot of disparities,” she said — justifying why she was allocating $9.6 million in COVID-19 relief funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help fight it.

The cash would be used to create six “Healthy Chicago Equity Zones,” creating “community-based stakeholder coalitions” charged with “dismantling historical inequities” that have plagued Chicago.

Lightfoot has long been a divisive leader in the troubled city — sparking a racism row of her own last month, when she announced she would only give one-on-one interviews to minority journalists to protest the lack of diversity in the Windy City press corps.

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