The heartbreaking events over the past weeks have had an intensely personal effect on me. They’ve brought up the unsettling feelings I’ve had way too many times before. The unsettling feelings steeped with hurt, anger and frustration ignited by injustice. I am desperately pained for all the Black youth and their families who are left wondering: “How? How do we move forward?”

Personally, I’ve experienced and seen this all my life. Growing up, and even now, as a Black male Executive and Entrepreneur moving from a mentality of “victim” to “victor” of racism and unequal treatment, which is an exhausting, but unfortunately, a necessary battle.

The murder of George Floyd is only the latest in a linage of ongoing horrors and tragedies that stem from America’s structural racism. Such events evoke a plea to the world – end the years of hatred, racism, oppression and let us live the dream for dignity, justice and equity for all.

 

“HATE, IT HAS CAUSED A LOT OF PROBLEMS IN THIS WORLD, BUT IT HAS NOT SOLVED ONE YET.”

 

In the past number of days, thousands took to the streets worldwide with these emotions erupting into protests, many peaceful and some disruptive. Across the world, we’ve seen people coming together to fight for these basic human rights. I do understand the mindset behind, “If you speak up and you’re not heard, you might yell. If you yell and you’re not heard, you might scream. If you scream and you’re not heard, you might throw something.” We’ve also seen inexcusable opportunists and extremists misappropriate well-intended actions behind equality and justice for all. As a side note, the celebratory riots following a major sporting event does not diminish the victory and meaning of the event…but, I digress.

 

I had a very difficult challenge in contextualizing and simplifying my thoughts and feelings around the murder of 46-year-old George Floyd after his non-resistant arrest by police outside a store in Minneapolis, Minnesota for allegedly purchasing cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. You’ve heard the stories and seen the coverage. This is a recurrence of brutal acts that has come to symbolize the reality of repression, control and disregard of Black, Brown and marginalized people in our communities.

 

DO THE BEST YOU CAN UNTIL KNOW BETTER. THEN WHEN YOU KNOW BETTER, DO BETTER.”

-Maya Angelou

 

Mr. Floyd joins an ever-growing list of past and present Black lives who died unnecessarily, as well as unjustified incarceration, resulting from social injustice. This does not exclude the attacks on Asian Americans; increasing numbers of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls; and the marginalization and displacement of immigrants seeking refuge weighing on our already weakened hearts. The worldwide support opposing the heinous acts against George Floyd is an outpouring of pain and disgust against these lawless actions. This is why we protest. This is why cities and towns across America are shattered, smoldering and in shock after a weekend unlike anything we’ve seen in 50 years. The consistent message I have taken from this civil unrest is the same message delivered by the COVID-19 pandemic…business as usual is over and disruption and discussion must be the rule of the day.

 

RACISM AND SOCIAL INJUSTICE MUST END

 

Almost 56 years ago, Community Action was born as part of the Civil Rights Movement. We continue to denounce all forms of violence and any acts that dehumanize anyone. The words of the Community Action Promise articulate who we are and what we believe, “We care about the entire community.” And, in love and unity, we will interrupt the darkness of this time and will continue to “embody the spirit of hope.”

So now what? This is not just a “BLACK & BROWN” problem. This is America’s problem. The beauty of the “peaceful protests” were an array of many races, religions, genders, those representing varied social and economic status and finally, predominately youth.

 

“RACE IS A LITTLE BIT LIKE GRAVITY, EXPERIENCED BY ALL, UNDERSTOOD BY FEW.”

-Professor John Powell

I am rooted in the optimism of action that as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, so will a change in status quo. The fuel and belief of that optimism are people like you – standing in the gap, rejecting as well as now clearly seeing the empty rhetoric of past failed, staged responses.

The movement from civil rights to human rights is no doubt, painful. The prescription for this cure is embodied in the accurate diagnosis and eradication of the disease.

I implore you to partner with me and what we stand for at CEDA and Community Action. Lean in. Be aware of how racism and social injustice manifests in and around your life – personal beliefs, relationships and institutions that continue to uphold these ills that plague our great nation.

JOIN US

But let me be clear, a “Call to Action to Stand With Us” is empty if it does not move us to individual and collective action and responsibility. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to drive a parked car.

Please take the next 8 minutes and 46 seconds to think through your response when you vote, where you spend your money, how you show up…

Sincerely,
Harold Rice, Jr.
President & Chief Executive Officer, CEDA

 

1 thought on “A MESSAGE FROM OUR CEO

  1. Are the intake program for energy (PIPP) at Universal Prayer Tower located 1335 East 76th Street , Chicago
    excepting applicants to complete recertification process?

    I have attempted to contact CEDA for update, but to a vail.

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