The team at the Chicago Jobs Council is feeling grief and sadness. We are tired of the violence of white supremacy still raging in this country.
George Floyd should be alive today. James Scurlock should be alive today. Breonna Taylor should be alive today. So many people should be alive today. White supremacy and racist violence have taken too much–especially from Black people, neighborhoods, and families. Some of us are traumatized by both the realities of violence, as well as the constant spectacle of Black death shared again and again online and on TV.
What comes next? We’re still figuring this out. We remain committed to racial equity and securing good jobs for all. We are still learning how to do anti-racist work as an organization with mostly white leadership. We also want to hear from you, our members and partners in communities, about your needs and priorities at this time. We want to offer what we can to support people in crisis right now in Chicago. For now, the Jobs Council has decided to donate all ticket sales from our Annual Meeting on Friday to Black-led Chicago organizations providing mutual aid, supporting protesters, and pushing for police accountability and reform. Finally, we will also offer our upcoming COVID & Trauma training for free.
Clearly, the status quo is failing disastrously. Community groups and advocates beg, year after year, for investments in jobs, grocery stores, education, mental health services, housing, and the infrastructure for human beings to live and thrive.
When it comes to funding those essential and life-giving services, we constantly come up against constraints and scarcity. Yet the budget for Chicago’s police department is constantly growing. About 40% of Chicago’s general fund goes to policing. Why, when the police ask for bullets, helmets, teargas, and surveillance tools, are our leaders ready with $1.7 billion dollars, but when we ask for investment in communities, we constantly get shortchanged?
Black lives matter. Black jobs matter. Black joy matters. And our budgets reveal what matters to us. If Black lives matter in Chicago, then we must prioritize investments in the services, opportunities, and supports that create true safety and help life thrive, and divest from the institutions that criminalize, brutalize, and kill Black people.
We need to root out the spectacular violence that happens fast. We also need to reverse the less-obvious violence that happens slowly through neglect, silence, disinvestment, poverty wages, debt, tickets piled up on vehicles, and many other ways.
We want everyone to be well, to thrive, and to have what they need. That hope feels so far away as police departments continue to antagonize and escalate, as public transit is shut down, and grocery stores are smashed or shuttered. But we choose to hope. And we commit to the work of addressing individual and systemic racism as staff members, as an organization, and as members of society. It is hard, essential work. We look forward to continuing it with you and our communities.