Wednesday morning, I awoke from a dream. Chicago’s next mayor will be an African-American woman.
But it’s real. On Tuesday, voters chose Lori Lightfoot, an attorney and former president of the Chicago Police Board, and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle to face off in the April 2 runoff election.
For some black men, that’s a nightmare.
Kimberley Egonmwan laid it out on Facebook.
“If tonight’s broadcast is any indication, many Black men in Chicago won’t be able to stomach April 2nd or the next four years,” she posted on election night.
“Tell me more, girlfriend!” I wrote to Egonmwan, a commentator on WVON-AM, Chicago’s black talk radio.
“While covering the election last night, when the Lori Lightfoot/Toni Preckwinkle matchup became clear, I was repeatedly told that ‘Black women are successful because white men set them up for success as a more palatable alternative to black men,’ ” Egonmwan replied.
It’s an ancient bromide. Black folks love conspiracy theories, especially this one. If a black man is down, a black woman must have teamed up with the man who put them there, some men say.
Sexism in the black community is a quiet, yet venomous threat. Too many men cannot abide a woman who achieves.
Chicago’s most senior and prominent black politicians dissed the three talented African-American women who ran in the Feb. 26 election.
South Side U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush endorsed former U.S. Commerce Secretary Bill Daley and pushed him in ads on black radio.
U.S. Rep Danny Davis urged his West Side constituents to vote for businessman Willie Wilson.
The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson invited all the candidates to his Rainbow PUSH forums, but did not endorse. (He met with Lightfoot Thursday).
Other black male “leaders” have not stepped up.
“Forget all of the accomplishments, the education, the constant fight just to exist or the fact that our community has largely survived because in every Black home there is a Black woman that has refused to fail — none of that matters,” Egonmwan noted.
Lightfoot is a former federal prosecutor and senior partner at Mayer Brown LLP. She did stints as chief of staff and general counsel of the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications, chief administrator of the Office of Professional Standards, and chair of the Police Accountability Task Force.
Preckwinkle is serving her third term on the County Board. She is the first African-American and woman chair of the Cook County Democratic Party, Chicago’s most powerful political post. Preckwinkle was elected to five terms as 4th Ward alderman in Hyde Park and Kenwood.
These uber-capable women have spent a lifetime beating down the doors of the old boys’ clubs.
When a black woman achieves, some black men are threatened.
Brothers, black Chicago is in trouble. In the last decade, hundreds of thousands of us have left the city. Our communities are shrinking in assets and growing in challenges.
The unemployment rate for black men in Chicago stands at 21 percent, according to a 2018 report by the State of the African-American Male conference, co-convened by Congressman Davis and the Sankofa Safe Child Initiative.
In Chicago, 27 percent of African-American males live in poverty.
Brothers, did you really think the wealthy power class that gave multi-millions of dollars to the Daleys would prioritize our needs?
Lightfoot and Preckwinkle have pledged to bring equity and new resources to Chicago’s beleaguered and bereft black communities.
By many measures, it’s black men and boys who need them most.
My man, it’s time to man up.
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