Statement on the Crises Facing Our Nation
To the Council Community:
Our nation is being tested in ways that few of us have ever experienced before. The worst pandemic in 100 years has felled nearly 2 million Americans and killed more than 100,000 of our fellow citizens. More than 40 million Americans have lost their jobs, and many more have seen their incomes slashed in the deepest economic crisis in 90 years. In both cases, African American and other minority communities have suffered disproportionately. And now, George Floyd’s murder has been added to a long list of black Americans who have suffered at the hands of those who are charged with protecting us all.
The succession of crises has laid bare fundamental fault lines in our society—systemic injustice, deep-seated racism, and historic inequality. Not only are these longstanding stains on our nation not acceptable, but they demand a commitment to fundamental, structural change. That is what the tens of thousands of Americans who have taken to the streets across the nation are demanding. They did so by exercising their fundamental right to protest and to petition those that govern to listen and finally enact the change that has been needed for so long. In some cases, demonstrations turned into riots. Yet, the violence of the few must not be allowed to silence the voices of the many.
This past week, this past month, this entire year has been among the worst in our lifetimes. Many of us are in shock. All of us are pained. We are angry. We despair of the injustices that have beset all too many of our fellow citizens. Many feel unheard, and we are still a very long way from the nation Martin Luther King dreamed of in 1963, one where we are all judged by the content of our character rather than the color of our skin.
For almost 100 years, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs has sought to build a diverse and inclusive community of individuals who seek to understand the issues that shape our world. We believe an informed, engaged public with access to fact-based and balanced views on global issues helps to ensure effective US global engagement and supports a more inclusive, equitable, and secure world. Throughout our history, the Council has provided a platform for fostering open and honest dialogue on difficult topics.
We will continue to execute on our mission in the days, weeks, and months ahead. As always, we will make sure that the issues that shape our city, our nation, and our world are brought to the fore in all that we do. And so we will take a closer look at the deep fault lines in our society—the systemic racism and injustice that inflicts unequal punishment on communities of color and the deep inequality that has divided our nation and our land, denying educational and economic opportunities to many that should be available to all. We will continue to bring disparate voices, including especially of those who have suffered so greatly, to ask questions, provide perspectives, and offer solutions.
I am confident that our nation will face the current test, as it has the many before, and emerge as a more united and more equal people. And I know the entire Council community is committed to get us there.
Ivo H. Daalder
President, Chicago Council on Global Affairs