Our Chicago: Part Two

Part II: Crislin Christian on Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot

In part one of this story, I shared Crislin Christian’s story of how her non-profit organization, Critical Youth Media, came to be. Organizations like Christian’s are thriving in Chicago despite the hardships their communities face as a result of citywide policies that uphold police brutality and flagrant housing discrimination. With Mayor Lightfoot’s inauguration last month, it’s become clear that community leaders must remind city officials of their responsibilities to serve and protect their citizens, including black and brown youth.  

I spoke with Christian on the phone one afternoon to hear more of her thoughts on Mayor Lightfoot’s legacy and her personal experience voting in Chicago elections:

Lori Lightfoot. Thoughts?

So, I don’t know how political you want to get.

Political.


Ok. Well, [Lightfoot] is of the system. She directly represents the system when we talk about violence towards black, brown and unemployed people…[and] the fact that [our city is] trying to frame her as a progressive because she’s black and lesbian is damaging. Her policies are misinforming. Her flip-flopping has been recorded time and time again. Rahm appointed her to focus on police accountability and she failed miserably. Rekia Boyd is one of the examples.

Young people are creating a lot of noise to make change, and we kind of won with Rahm stepping down, but with Lightfoot following these people in their footsteps, it’s not promising. We’re doing our research. We’re looking up her policies, her legacies and making our own conclusions to determine whether or not we support her.

But let’s face it. She’s another Rahm. And the people who know it are young people. Aldermen are being held accountable for perpetuating violence. People like Anita Alvarez, [former State’s Attorney for Cook County,] and [former Chicago cop] Jason Van Dyke can’t get away with what they’ve done.

So, before Mayor Lightfoot’s policies come into effect over these next few months, I want to hear your take on the mayoral race leading up to Lightfoot’s election.

I voted for Toni Preckwinkle, who showed she was honest. But clearly that didn’t work for her.

Every time I’ve participated in any election, I always think about how elections are our most important rights as citizens of this country. I have two friends, Trina Tyler (@trinattrill) and Maira Khwaja (together, ™ Productions) who do incredible work to assess, analyze and boost young people’s participation in politics. Ages 18 to 24 represent the lowest turnout, while 65+ is the biggest. This means [Tyler and Khwaja] have got to be on the ground convincing young people to vote. They’re asking questions like, ‘Why do you want to vote? Why don’t you want to vote?’ and have to convey messages like, ‘Your vote matters.’

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After my conversations with Christian over the years, both on- and offline, it’s become clear that she is more than a force with which to be reckoned. Her unwavering passion for learning and love for her community cultivate an unparalleled sense of leadership that drives her to help young people across the US remember and harness their power to create real change.

Are you interested in local politics or media? Do you want to learn how you can help young people and leaders like Christian create the change you want to see?


Let’s talk. I’m here.