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Making the Personal the Political

A Black lesbian is running for Mayor of Chicago, her name is Lori Lightfoot. If you haven’t heard of her it’s because she doesn’t have the backing of the big political machine and she might never get it.


It has been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Chicago has been putting the same type of person in the mayoral office over and over again and expecting the different results. We want an end to the gun violence, we want more industry, we want more affordable housing, and we want better schools. We want all these things, but we keep electing the same type of person to be our mayor. Our city is in effect, insane. Chicago needs nothing short of a full-scale revolution. The people of Chicago deserve a change. Rahm Emmanuel certainly aint…it. His bid for reelection has been met with a lot of side eye and deep sighs especially from Chicagoans of color.


Chicago is thirsty for any sort of a shakeup that involves a leader other than a white man who thinks Black kids need more police and less schools. During his tenure as mayor Mr. Emmanuel has closed nearly 50 schools and at the same time found the funds for a 95 million-dollar police training academy. Chicagoans are tired of political machine politics and nothing getting done. We want something revisionary. And what is more revolutionary than a Black lesbian running to unseat Barack Obama’s once right-hand man?


A Black lesbian existing in the political sphere is a revolutionary act in and of itself because we are not supposed to be seen.


Especially not during this time, under this administration.


We have a President who is actively pushing forward an anti-LGTBTQ agenda and a lot of Americans are coming out of the woodwork voicing their support for his hatred. In the face of these newly emboldened bigots, Lori Lightfoot is putting herself on the line to fight for a better Chicago. She may have the answers, she may not, but her and other candidates who don’t fit the traditional mold are all speaking out against this big renewed middle American anti-immigrant anti-POC agenda.


The mere fact that Ms. Lightfoot has decided to throw her hat in the ring makes her entire campaign part of a new revolution. A Black lesbian taking up space in a political arena generally reserved for white straight men is something hardly scene, and never seen in Chicago machine politics.  If elected she would become the first African American woman and the first lesbian mayor of a major city.


A former federal prosecutor, Lori Lightfoot is running as a progressive. She, like many others close to the heart of Chicago identity politics, believes that the violence seen in the streets can be curbed by implementing a change in social policy. She has had first-hand experience with the police board and believes she knows how we can reform their policing methods to better serve the community. She has laid out a progressive social agenda for her most vulnerable potential constituents and believes that if we provide social programming, schools, mental health services, and other assistance to the areas most affected by violence in the city then we can improve the overall quality of life for everyone in Chicago.


Now this begs the question: does it matter that Ms. Lightfoot is a Black lesbian and if it matters HOW does it matter?


First, there’s the general adage that “representation matters” (which tends to ring true) and in a city that is 32% Black it would be nice to have MORE Black representation in the mayoral office. Black people are also leaving the city in record numbers and a Black mayor might know just how to curb that migration. Additionally, Audre Lorde once said that as a Black lesbian she had to recognize that her power and her oppression come from two separate sources, her blackness and her womaness and her struggle for liberation on both these fronts are forever intertwined. That connection both defined and drove her in a wholly unique way. She maintained that she could never be a single-issue freedom fighter because her life was inherently multi-issued.


Ms. Lightfoot is currently a partner at a successful law firm and while she doesn’t share the financial struggles a lot of at risk Chicagoans face, as a Black gay woman, she most likely has faced her share of discrimination and oppression on other fronts. This experience may allow her to see various solutions to multiple issues from multiple angles. That insight will give her the advantage of applying mindfully progressive solutions to decades old problems in the hopes of finally solving them. This is the hope that just might the spark the light that the sets the Chicago revolution on fire.  


Cover photo Chicago Tribune 

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