J.B. Pritzker's ‘African-American Thing’ | The Vibe | Chicago Reader

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J.B. Pritzker's ‘African-American Thing’

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GREG HOUSTON
  • Greg Houston

Who are you really?

Are your social media “stories” true or just self-curated propaganda crafted, like campaign ads, to further a personal legend scrubbed clean of the dirty bits?

Can anyone—your sister, your best friend, your ma—ever know the totality of you?

If your answer is yes, how can you prove it?

Well, the late college basketball coach John Wooden famously offered this litmus test: “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is looking.”

The character of J.B. Pritzker came into question when a 2008 federal wiretap made public last week let us listen in as the billionaire front-runner in the Democratic primary for governor talked race politics when he thought no one was listening.

In today’s issue, the Reader boldly weighs in with a column by Adeshina Emmanuel that drops bombs on Pritzker’s “subtle racism” and the black politicians who stood by him as he apologized at a west-side soul food restaurant. 

Emmanuel followed up with the pols he name-checked to give them a chance to defend their decision to stand by Pritzker as the Democratic machine-backed candidate pulpits around the state. 

Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg makes a guest appearance to offer his take on why Emil Jones is crass, among other things. We give the final word—with audio—to J.B. Pritzker himself.

cover-021518.jpg

Today’s cover is a stand-alone work of art by illustrator Greg Houston.

I’ll let Houston explain it for himself: “There was a time in America when certain things were socially acceptable without any thought to how dehumanizing they were to someone else. The image of the lawn jockey symbolizes the wink-and-a-nudge ignorance that puts racism into context historically and in this contemporary situation. As a Democrat, Pritzker indeed needs the black vote, and he puts all his weight on it in a most disrespectful manner.”

We live in a society of spin where everyone—public school teachers and rich white power brokers alike—can use social-media platforms or, in Pritzker’s case, a bottomless campaign war chest, to gather a choir of “friends” from Facebook or the City Council Black Caucus to accept our apologies as a way of moving onward.

Here’s the thing: Pritzker hopes to be forgiven as he hits the road to tell African-American voters that he’s changed, but being absolved of his sins offers no proof that he has changed. To some people his vow that he has sounds like a campaign promise just waiting to be broken.

An American conversation about racism—whether it’s the overt bigotry of a Nazi running for Congress on the southwest side or the coded language that got Pritzker jammed up on that wiretap—should be uncomfortable.

Hell, it should hurt, like a punch in the gut.

That’s what today’s issue, my debut with the Reader, is all about. 

Well, that and we catch up with Vic Mensa as he takes a smoke break in Hyde Park, and film critic J.R. Jones gives us the lowdown on animated art-house movies Tehran Taboo and Have A Nice Day at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

We journey with food critic Mike Sula to find out why Morena’s Kitchen isn’t just for breakfast, and get music writer Leor Galil’s take on Lupe Fiasco’s ode to Harold’s Chicken.

If you want to talk about it, any of it, hit us up at thevibe@chicagoreader.com.

Love always,
Mark Konkol
Executive Editor







Pritzker the sneak disser might as well have said the N-word

By Adeshina Emmanuel

J.B. Pritzker is (not) a bigot

The words he used weren't anything black politicians hadn't said before.

By Neil Steinberg

Black pols stuck in the Democratic machine’s spin cycle explain themselves

Here's why they're still standing behind J.B. Pritzker.

By Adeshina Emmanuel

J.B. Pritzker talks race politics

Why should millennials vote for him? Legalized weed.

By Mark Konkol



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