* Background is here if you need it. An open letter to MWRD Commissioner Kari Steele, who is running for Cook County assessor against incumbent Fritz Kaegi…
We witnessed the recent public discussion of anti-semitism on your spouse’s talk show. While we were heartened to see that apologies were issued, we feel compelled to raise similar and related concerns about Mr. Jackson’s history of making offensive comments about the Latino community on his show, and fomenting harmful anti-Latino and anti-immigrant sentiments.
As you know, there is a long and painful history of tension cultivated between African American and Latino communities in Chicago. Following in the legacy of the Harold Washington era, we have worked hard to build solidarity between our communities, which face so many common challenges. That is why Mr. Jackson’s consistent sowing of animosity against the Latino community is so deeply troubling.
Furthermore, our immigrant community and particularly the undocumented population came under attack in recent years under Donald Trump and ICE. Now more than ever, we need leaders of all racial and ethnic backgrounds to stand together to defend undocumented immigrants against the threat of violent attacks and oppression.
Our struggles are inherently bound together. But instead, amid this crisis, Mr. Jackson has offered his show as a platform from which to lob attacks on the vulnerable Latino immigrant population. And all along, disappointingly, you have remained silent.
For example, just recently, on 4/27/2022, Mr. Jackson made several troubling comments in response to a recent report from the Great Cities Institute. “The person leading, who has the data ain’t us,” Mr. Jackson says [42:00], a reference to Teresa Cordova of the Great Cities Institute, who is Latina. He goes on to say he is “coming to the realization that [Latinos] are going to take our stuff.”
“They [Latinos] are hijacking our birthright by using the people of color analogy,” said Mr. Jackson. Later [1:07], Mr. Jackson says he “went to the Black gym at the Blackest church in Chicago, and it’s all Latino. They playing basketball right on Jackson.”
In the same episode, which took place during your campaign for Assessor, President Steele, Mr. Jackson discusses your campaign, and your logo is visible throughout the show on screen.
In another episode, this time from summer 2021, Mr. Jackson stated: “We gotta get these people in control, they’re destroying our city: Latinos! I think Latinos have taken the premise of ‘if you can’t beat them join them’ and when I say ‘beat them,’ you can’t beat the white boys so [you] join them in beating and villainizing the Black people.”
Those are just two recent examples of many such troubling comments Mr. Jackson has made without apparent response from you. Now, after years of silence, you are asking for our votes, and in some cases, our campaign contributions.
As you run for office countywide in a county with a significant Latino voting age population, we hope you will consider addressing this problematic history with the same urgency that you did when the Jewish community sounded their alarm.
Now more than ever, our communities should be uniting across the racial and ethnic lines that traditionally divided us. We hope you agree.
Former Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez Ald. Sue Sadlowski Garza (10)
Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22)
Ald. Byron Sigcho Lopez (25)
Ald. Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez (33)
Ald. Carlos Ramirez Rosa (35)
Ald. Andre Vasquez (40)
State Sen. Celina Villanueva
State Rep. Delia Ramirez
State Rep. Edgar Gonzalez
Commissioner Alma Anaya
The Latino Leadership Council
Equality Illinois Deputy Director Mony Ruiz-Velasco
* Here’s a smallish sampling of the rest, but you can click here for the whole thing…
Link: https://youtu.be/rLtPONSsL6I Timestamp: 01:48:59
“So again my question becomes, who are we putting in these positions like who’s gonna be the new head of the streets, and saying ‘will we allow it to be somebody Latino?’”
Link: https://youtu.be/Q9xFQTYNf7g Timestamp: 01:40:00
“I am going to remain in the position that the Black and Brown coalition is a mythical creation that white folks use.”
Link: https://youtu.be/Q9xFQTYNf7g Timestamp: 01:40:19
“I don’t believe that there is a true Black and Brown coalition and I don’t necessarily believe that there should be.”
Link: https://youtu.be/Q9xFQTYNf7g Timestamp: 01:42:38
“When is the last time you heard somebody Brown say ‘what about the Black people?’”
Link: https://youtu.be/Q9xFQTYNf7g Timestamp: 01:42:15
“I was offended—I am offended—that once again we are marrying our issues to the Brown community.”
Link: https://youtu.be/Q9xFQTYNf7g Timestamp: 01:43:50
“I think that Rep. Welch is ignoring the history of the ‘Black-Brown relationship’ in Chicago and Cook County, particularly because when the Latinos got into power their plan was not to coalesce with us, it was to make us bend the knee.”
Link: https://youtu.be/Q9xFQTYNf7g Timestamp: 01:44:58
“I’m also tell you that until we until we reconcile the the latest offenses of the Latino community, the latest assaults of the Latino community, against Black folks, ain’t no Black Brown coalition [going to exist].”
Link: https://youtu.be/Q9xFQTYNf7g Timestamp: 01:46:24
“What I want you all to do is to put your third eye out and recognize that all this Black-Brown coalition is usually talked about by people who represent mixed districts and are more concerned about the Latinos than the Black folks.”
Link: https://youtu.be/Q9xFQTYNf7g Timestamp: 01:47:45
“Can you point to me in Illinois when the Latino caucus or the Latino community has stood up for Black people? The only person I can tell you who has done that I could think of is Senator Martin Sandoval. Besides him, I can’t think of any Latino elected official that went out upfront and said ‘as a Latino I am concerned about the interests of what happened to my brothers.’ Not even your boy Chuy Garcia, who talks about Harold Washington all the time! Not even Luis Gutierrez [in an mocking accent].”
Link: https://youtu.be/bcobyWodYc0 Timestamp: 00:53:15
“I’m saying that Black people are being diluted to the point where they’re gonna be like, it’s just gonna be this murky pool, and we’re going to have nothing”
Again, as we’ve already discussed, Maze Jackson has advocated for and acted as a surrogate for his spouse’s campaigns. That makes this relevant.