It’s hard to find a way to talk about what has happened these past few days – maybe more so because I’m a white woman. My daily life doesn’t remind me of the barriers many in our nation continue to face. If you are a person of color, you have lived the experience every day of your life.
As a society, our country’s eyes have been slow to open to our ongoing issues of race. We watch with shock, sadness and anger as some in uniform break the law. And that sadness has only grown with the resulting violence and vandalism we’ve seen in recent days. But when you consider the generations of pain and loss people of color have endured, you absolutely begin to understand why this is happening. Maybe most importantly, every single one of us knows the status quo cannot be tolerated by any of us any longer.
The challenge is how to move forward – we have created systems and institutions throughout our society that reinforce these racial biases. We don’t talk about the “privileges” that our society has created based on race, but also on gender, skin color, sexuality, religion, affluence or physical ability. It feels like so much to take on – yet, we must and we shall.
Conflict is hard, but the only way I know to deal with it is to confront it directly – not out of anger or to defend our actions, but out of a desire to improve, to be better, to make change. This isn’t somebody else’s problem – this is our problem.
So, while I’m sure for many Chamber members, this isn’t kind of message you would expect from us, I do believe it is just the message we should have the courage to carry. We are committed to developing a more inclusive economy – one where every single person can prosper. Today, our commitment to do that is stronger than ever.
Even in these troubled and divided times, there is hope around us that we can and will do better. Our future depends on us changing our world, no matter how hard it is. It is clear we have wasted too much time already. No more excuses. No more justifications. No more defending the status quo. The time is now to get to work and build a future together that works for each and every one of us.
Kelly Brough is the president and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber.