The cruel and unjust death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has led to massive peaceful protests, looting, and violence in Chicago and cities across the US. His death and the death of dozens before him has laid bare the anger, distrust and frustration people feel about the treatment of people of color. Anger because these killings keep happening. Distrust and frustration because substantive change has not occurred, and there is little belief that it will.
This is the story of two Americas. One is white and most often reflects access to quality education and healthcare, safe housing, economic opportunity and well-being. The other is black and brown and is often based in poverty with substandard education, poor healthcare, unhealthy housing and little economic opportunity. These groups are treated differently in our society. Our laws, employment practices and institutional structures have all worked to narrow the opportunity for black and brown people to not only survive but thrive.
We have been at this crossroads before. Do we now choose to do the hard work and make the hard choices to create equity, to invest in people and communities of color? Or, do we continue to merely respond to each crisis individually without making meaningful change?
Cook County Health Foundation is committed to creating a county in which everyone has the opportunity to be healthy. With our partner Cook County Health, we work to assure all who need care get care, regardless of their ability to pay, and work to address barriers to health: nutritious food, safe and affordable housing, education. More than 80% of our patients are from communities of color. They are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn, a signal of the disparities that exist in our communities. We recognize that now more than ever we need to redouble our efforts and stand beside communities of color to create a more just future.
No one institution can right the wrongs that have been done. Yet each institution and each of us has a role in making it right. All of us at the Foundation hope that you and your families are safe and well. We hope that you will join us in addressing the critical issues that confront our society and find ways to personally make a difference in all our communities.