Dear Chicago Scholars Family,
The events of this last week and weekend weigh heavy on me. In addition to being an advocate for social justice and the CEO of Chicago Scholars, I am processing these events as a mom. My daughter is an artist, and last week she shared with me a picture she drew of a young black girl standing in front of blue and red police lights, her fist raised in the air, and surrounded by the names of the Black lives lost to senseless and reprehensible acts of violence.
While I am so proud of her artistic ability and her ability to comprehend what is happening in our country, it makes me incredibly sad that my 11-year old’s hope and innocence is being stolen. That same hope and innocence is being stolen from our Scholars and from Black youth all across our nation. I’m sad. I’m angry. But I’m also determined.
We all grow up believing and even teaching our children the tenants of a social contract that is supposed to exist in America. That social contract tells us that our hard work and college degrees would provide us some semblance of equity. But the events of the past weeks have been a painful reminder that this social contract does not exist for many of us — especially our Black and Brown students.
In order to build a future society that works for everyone, we need leaders who have determination, talent, and compassion. I believe that systemic change in our country cannot happen until more people of color from marginalized communities are in positions of leadership and power. We need more leaders like our Scholars.
What’s happening across the country is about social justice, and education is social justice. We know that well educated people have access to better jobs with higher pay and raise healthier children. However, this work is about more than that. We must account for the fact that our Scholars face traumatic experiences throughout the course of life from harassment, poverty, racism, and violence. That’s why Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access are so important to our philosophy of change.
We must start recognizing the differences in our lived experiences in America if we truly want that social contract to exist for all. In the coming weeks and months, as we move to rebuild our neighborhoods, and rewrite that social contract for all, we have the opportunity to do it in a more just and equitable way. Black Lives Matter. We need more of our citizens, our organizations, our policymakers, and our corporations to say it. And we need to act on it.
Scholars and Alums, we see you and we are here for you. You are the leaders our city and our country are seeking, and we are determined to make sure you have the resources, support, and opportunities to get there. There is so much more work to be done.
Dominique Jordan Turner
CEO, Chicago Scholars