Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a declaration on Thursday decrying systemic racism as a “public health crisis” and announcing that the city would divert $10 million in grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), meant to be used to address the COVID-19 pandemic, to establish “healthy Chicago equity zones.”
“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 at a press conference on Thursday. “Without formally acknowledging this history and reality, and the continuing impact of that infamous legacy, looking at the root causes of today’s challenges, we will never be able to move forward as a city and fully provide our communities with the resources that we need to live happy, vibrant, and fulfilled lives.”
Lightfoot noted that it is not overt racism that poses a significant health crisis, but rather the effects of “systemic racism” which, she said, has a “deadly” impact on physical and mental well-being.
“When we think about racism, many of us think about it in visible and audible forms, but the reality is the insidious nature of systemic racism has other impacts that are every bit as deep and harmful, but often ones that we can’t see, like the impacts on the psyche and other impacts on our bodies that are just as, if not more deadly,” Lightfoot.
Lightfoot claimed, in her speech, that the city’s efforts to battle the COVID-19 epidemic “laid bare” the difference in how communities of color weather a health crisis — a revelation documented in a “Chicago Department of Public Health released a study earlier this week, showing Black Chicagoans have a shorter life expectancy rate. On average, Blacks in the city lived 71.4 years while non-Blacks lived 80.6 years. That gap is 9.2 years, but depending on the neighborhood it gets even wider,” per WGN News.
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