North Avenue District calls for equality

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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The North Avenue District joins the chorus of voices condemning racism in all its forms. We are horrified by racist police brutality. The murder of George Floyd and, closer to home, the attack on Mia Wright and her companions in Brickyard Mall, are only the most recent examples. We are just as appalled by the racist — sometimes violent — behavior of ordinary citizens, from Central Park in New York to the Jewel parking lot in River Forest. Perhaps worst of all, there are all too often no consequences for racist behavior. Equally unacceptable is the systemic racism that has given black and brown people the short end of almost every stick. 

In 2020, we can no longer hope and wish our way out of this problem with vague statements, so let us be clear: We are calling for immediate comprehensive police reform, judicial reform, and economic reform to remove racial bias and negative outcomes for black people. Economic reform is an issue we have championed on North Avenue and commit to continue working on as an organization. 

Since 2013, North Avenue District Inc. has been working to revitalize North Avenue from Austin to Harlem in both Chicago and Oak Park. Our district's business owners are extremely diverse. At least 22 percent of district businesses are owned by African Americans. At a minimum, another 20 percent are owned by other people of color. 

We believe this diversity is part of the reason North Avenue has lacked investment. We've worked consistently to overcome this barrier by bringing attention, investment and energy to our corridor. We work on behalf of a diverse group of stakeholders — organizations, property owners and residents. Half of our board members are black. Half are female. Half represent Chicago and half Oak Park. 

This diversity represents our community and our world. We are proud of this, but know that it only occurred because we were intentional. We will continue to be intentional about diversity, inclusion and anti-racism as we work to make our district a better place for all of us.

Judith Alexander

On behalf of North Avenue District Inc.

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