There have been many moments in the country’s history that have shaken it to its core. The recent pandemic is one such event, but the other, which has reverberated around the world, is the May 25th death of George Floyd at the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.
Our Board Chair, Kathryn Hall, made a comment to me this afternoon that silence is sometimes considered a form of agreement. So, in this moment in history, it is incumbent upon us to acknowledge that regardless of our skin color or ethnic background, or any other things that have been used to divide us, we are first and foremost human and deserve what the Constitution of the United States promises us, “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
I am writing to you because the issue of racism in America has caused the country and the world to take notice, and to, hopefully, finally address it in a meaningful way that leads to understanding and healing.
We make it our work every day as an agency to address the gaps that exist in our economic system. We show up for the people who need our services: some of our community’s most vulnerable children and families. No matter their background or their current circumstances, we exist to show them there is a future that can be different than their present.
That’s what we all want for the nation, too: a future that is better than our present. A future that is brighter, more equitable, and more just. We see it in the faces of the children we teach. Their future can be better than our present, but the work to make it so can’t wait.
Kindness, regardless of circumstance, is a start. Self-reflection, a willingness to have a conversation when we don’t understand and a commitment to do and be better is required.
We will continue to serve. We will continue to help. We will continue to learn.
Be kind, be well, and as always, be safe.
Dr. Jacklyn Chisholm
President & CEO of The Council for Economic Opportunities in Greater Cleveland