ICOY statement on recent and ongoing racist events
ICOY believes that children and youth have the right to enter adulthood with the tools and capacity to succeed, and that Illinois only succeeds when its children, youth, and families thrive.
Two years ago this summer, the ICOY Board of Directors voted to affirm our belief in the above statement. Perhaps we should have clarified that we meant ALL children and youth have the right to enter adulthood and that Illinois only succeeds when ALL its children, youth, and families thrive, regardless of the color of their skin, or where they were born, or their faith, family configuration, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
The racist events we have witnessed here and across the nation over the past week – in Central Park with Christian Cooper, in Minnesota with George Floyd, and in Georgia with Ahmaud Arbery – once again challenge our commitment to this core belief. And let us not lose sight of the extreme disparities that the coronavirus is exposing and the disproportionate suffering this pandemic is inflicting on communities of color in Illinois and elsewhere.
To our colleagues of color, I am deeply sorry that our country forces you to carry additional burdens of injustice, inequity, and fear for your lives and safety. Your rage and exhaustion are justified. I apologize both personally and on behalf of ICOY for every time we have added to your burdens.
To our white colleagues, please use this moment of pain and outrage to reflect on your privilege and power and how racialization distorts all parts of our social and economic system, and then take steps to use that privilege and power to become a better ally and advocate for racial justice and equity. I believe that this is a responsibility and obligation we each have as individuals and as people who chose mission-driven careers in human service. Please see several anti-racism resources and guides to learning more about effective allyship below:
In sum, we can and we must do better. We can no longer sit by and be passively “not racist.” Instead, we must be actively anti-racist, and not just when ugly and unacceptable behavior goes viral on social media. Speaking only for myself, I am horrified and disgusted by these brutal examples of our country’s original sin, and am reflecting on the ways I can be proactive in helping to redeem it. I am committed to listening, learning, and acting. I know I have and will make mistakes in this journey, but I hope I will be humble enough to correct them. Thank you to all of you who generously serve as my teachers and mentors in this process.
In the coming weeks and months, we will share additional resources and information that can help address these issues of racial justice and equity. In the meantime, if you have ideas and actions that we can take as a collaboration of people and organizations that care about these issues, please share them. Our doors and hearts are open.
With hope for healing and justice,
Chief Executive Officer