Like all of you, I have been profoundly shaken by recent events. The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis triggered an overwhelming response that has touched everyone, including here in Chicago. It has also propelled the country into action, which has been expressed by the continued outpouring of grief, frustration and protest by so many, and the tragic, senseless violence by the very few.
As I reflect on a path forward for our city, our state and our country, I recognize I will never know what it is like to be the target of institutional racism and systemic injustice. It is a deep pain and trauma that is both inexcusable, and sadly a reality for too many years. It erodes the fabric of our society and prevents us from achieving full equality. But I also know that everyone, regardless of who they are, can commit to the change that is needed and long overdue.
For the Chicagoland Chamber, and I hope all our members and community partners, that must start with a commitment to listen and learn. It requires engaging in courageous conversations about race and speaking up when we see injustice. It requires a shared desire to drive meaningful and lasting change.
There will be difficult days ahead as we pick up the pieces. This comes, of course, on top of the challenges we continue to face from the COVID-19 pandemic. But we all have a responsibility to eradicate racism.
Our organization has a long history of serving as a convener and facilitator of important conversations that lead to action and make our region stronger. We must continue to deliver critical resources to help our businesses recover and advocate for the conditions necessary for them to thrive. We will draw on these traditions as we work together to rebuild.
Chicago has fought through adversity many times, literally rising from the ashes of destruction and despair. We can again if we all engage in this “awakening” so that it results in real change. That is my personal commitment, and I hope all of yours as well.