Rookie Ald. Andre Vasquez, a former battle rapper known for his homophobic and misogynistic lyrics, says he’s making up for past misbehavior, and his move to create a gender-neutral title is part of that.
For a former battle rapper known for his homophobic and misogynistic lyrics, Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th) sure is on a personal redemption tour.
Six months after convincing the City Council to take a small but important step toward transgender equality, Vasquez is leading the charge to formally change the title of the 50 people elected to represent Chicago wards from “alderman” to “alder.”
At Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Vasquez plans to introduce a resolution — co-sponsored by more than a dozen colleagues, most of them men — urging the Illinois General Assembly to change state law to reflect the new, gender-neutral title.
Vasquez has openly acknowledged changing his ways — and that this is his very public way of apologizing.
“It absolutely is part of making amends because of my prior ignorance and trying to create the kind of city where future generations have a much better understanding than I did growing up,” he said.
“I grew up in a society where nobody talked about these things. So all that was re-instilled was ‘Man this’ and, ‘Man that’ and how men are superior. … If this kind of terminology and this kind of language and context were more readily available in the public when I was growing up, I wouldn’t be the person who did all that in the past.”
Vasquez denied the name change would be costly, noting most city business is conducted electronically and that whatever stationery City Council members have that includes the title, “Alderman” could be used up and replaced by new stationery with the new title.
“If future generations have a better understanding, it does make inroads into how people view other genders and the typical role of what’s been presented as men and women,” he said.
“You look at a person for what their role is and what they do. And the man or woman part of it is not as important as what the person does.”
South Side Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) has been called “alderman,” “alderwoman,” “alderperson” and “alder.”
“It’s become very confusing. … People are like, ‘I don’t know what to call you anymore,” Hairston said.
“My response is generally, ‘The title is alderman. That is what is legally recognized by state statute.’ If it’s going to be changed, it needs to be changed at the state level.”
Hairston agreed with Vasquez that state law should be changed.
“Everybody is not a man. Some people are women,” she said. “I am not a man. I’m a woman.”
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March 24, 2021 at 06:03AM