"Black Chicagoans deserve to be safe. As demonstrated by the poll, Black Chicagoans recognize that safety can be achieved by both meeting people's basic needs and creating equitable systems. The next Mayor of Chicago must prioritize and focus on increasing the number of accessible jobs that pay a living wage, a strong public education system, reliable public transportation, and affordable housing and child care — not focusing on how to increase the police department's budget." – Patrice James, Founding Director at Illinois Black Advocacy Initiative
Read more about policy solutions elected officials should adopt to meet the needs of Black Illinoisians here.
The Illinois Black Advocacy Initiative (IBAI) joined Northwestern University’s Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy and Latinx community-serving organizations to release the results of a poll focused on how Chicagoans—Black and Latinx people in particular—are planning to vote in the upcoming Chicago Mayoral race and the issues most important to them.
Overall, the poll showed many commonalities between Black and Latinx voters. There was alignment on key issues, agreement on the opportunities that come from working together, and an emphasis on the importance of candidates understanding their respective communities. For instance, both Black and Latinx groups support creating a humane and orderly way to allow immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers to live and contribute to Chicago. This shared sentiment highlights an often overlooked population of African Diasporic refugees and immigrants who seek shelter and a new home in America. To address this need, the United African Organization supports Black asylum seekers coming through the US-Mexico border by ensuring that they have equitable access to available state and local resources.
Unsurprisingly, Black people ranked crime as their top issue. Throughout this municipal election season, all the candidates have discussed crime, and when discussing their solutions, many choose to focus on the need to increase the size of the Chicago Police Department. However, the Black Chicagoans that were polled are interested in more than just increasing the size of the police force, as 74% of them support decreasing the police budget to instead address the root causes of crime. Crime is complex, and the solutions are equally complex. Black Chicagoans recognize that there is not just one solution, but multiple. Recognizing this, our partners at the Blackroots Alliance are working to address the root issues of crime and are talking to Black communities throughout Chicago to learn what safety means to them. Crime is not only an issue of concern to Chicagoans, and there are many advocacy organizations working to combat crime throughout the state of Illinois, like LiveFree Illinois. We stand to gain valuable insights by learning from Black-led organizations that are creating solutions to crime outside of Chicago, in communities like Champaign-Urbana. There, you have a powerful coalition of advocates encouraging the city to develop a coordinated approach to both prevent and address the effects of crime.
Black people have always been a powerful voting block, but candidates should not take Black voters for granted or discount their interests. The poll showed that 54% of the Black people polled had not been contacted by anyone from a Mayoral campaign, the highest out of the three racial and ethnic groups polled. Black voters have the ability to turn elections when inspired by the promise of a candidate that listens to their concerns and responds to them both during the campaign and once in office. In order for that to happen, candidates, and their representatives must do the work to inspire and win over Black voters. As the poll suggests, no candidate should just count on the Black vote. Instead, we at the Illinois Black Advocacy Initiative, implore candidates to take a serious look at the results of this poll and the existing work of Black advocates and community organizations to address Black voters as the savvy and informed constituents they are.