Like most human beings on this planet, we have been left shell-shocked, angry, and horrified that the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and countless other Black Americans in Chicago, and across this country, have been so violently cut short. The video showing the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer, alongside other police officers who did nothing to stop it has been heart wrenching to watch. We wish that institutional racism, and the police violence it gives rise to, didn’t cause their deaths. It’s a tragedy of justice and basic human values that all members of our Black community cannot feel safe and live without fear.
As is evident all across America, inequality and racism continue to plague our communities. The unrest and protests in the streets, along with the numerous responses from all sectors of our population, are a wake-up call for change. Words in an e-mail or social media post feel completely inadequate right now. We know that it’s not enough to be against racism; we must be actively and relentlessly anti-racist. We must speak out and take action when hate, violence, and systemic racism claim — too often without consequences— Black Lives.
Many of our clients in our housing programs are black Americans who have first-hand experience of racism, discrimination, or harassment, which has been made even more frightening and painful by the experience of homelessness. We will never tolerate these behaviors in our shelter, our office, or in any interaction with our clients. All board members, staff, and volunteers will be held to the highest standards of basic respect and human decency.
We are more committed than ever to our ongoing journey toward racial equality in the communities that we serve and at our agency. We will strive harder to apply our values to our mission of supporting as many people as possible, regardless of race, gender or ethnicity, from the traumatic experience of homelessness.
We're all in this together, and there's so much we can do to support each other and to learn from one another. Black Lives Matter. Here in Chicago, and everywhere on the planet.
With hope and solidarity,
Your friends at North Side Housing and Supportive Services