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News & Press: Leadership Diversity

Gloria Castillo, Chicago United CEO, Responds to Charlottesville

Monday, August 14, 2017  
Posted by: Caitlin Yee
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“If you are not outraged you are not paying attention.”  That was the Facebook posting of Heather Heyer before she was killed along with two Virginia state police in opposition to hate and in the name of the American values of equality and inclusion.


Good Americans who voted for Trump, and those who did not, are indeed equally outraged by the violent gathering of the white supremacists at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA this past weekend.

We are stunned by the 45th President’s attempt to create a moral equivalency of responsibilities of “many sides” in response to the violence in Charlottesville.  No.  The Neo Nazis, KKK, and other hate groups organized and marched with torches in order to intimidate their foes and recruit allies.  They assembled in helmets, carrying shields, bats and guns, water bottles filled with concrete and weaponized a vehicle.  The President needed to call this evil exactly what it is -domestic terrorism.


I hold no expectation or hope that the 45th President will find a moral compass. I hold no hope that those on the White House staff will change the man who throughout his campaign and presidency to-date has demonized, Mexicans, Muslims, and transgender people. White supremacists are emboldened by Trump, and wore their red “Make America Great Again” hats proudly in Charlottesville.


The Neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, gave a favorable review of the President’s remarks.  “When he was asked to condemn the rally and the violence that resulted, he just walked out of the room.  Really, really good. God bless him.” This, to me, was the defining moment of the Trump Presidency.


I have said before that in the absence of moral leadership from the White House, the business community will lead the march towards the vision of America, an inclusive land of opportunity.  I believe that to be true now more than ever.  Over 500 CEOs have joined CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion.  Today Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, in a demonstration of moral leadership, resigned from the President’s Manufacturing Council.  He received immediate backlash from the 45th President with no equivocation.  The President does know how to use strong language when he is disturbed by a situation.


The business community must respond to the President, in no uncertain terms, with condemnation of his practice of bullying.  You do have the power to stand up as a collective.


There is one additional point the business community must come to terms with.  There is racism in America and it spans generations.  I have been in far too many meetings where I have been told millennials do not see race.  I don’t believe any demographic should be painted with a broad brush, and therefore we cannot minimize the declining state of race relations in the U.S. for the convenience of creating a monolithic group of millennials.  Dylan Roof and James Alex Fields Jr. are millennials.  They don’t represent all millennials, but they are an example of why we cannot minimize race as a divisive issue in America. 


Today, in our workplaces, we must acknowledge the American tragedies of domestic terrorism.  The death of nine prayerful people in Charleston, and the death of three in Charlottesville are only two examples of actions from the over 900 hate groups active in the country today.  In a calm, clearheaded but determined manner, we must hold to the goal to create “a more perfect union.”


And, let us turn to what we can do now.  When we hear the response to Black Lives Matter as “All Lives Matter” we must reinforce the fact that our history, and currently groups with a hold in the White House, explicitly express that only White lives matter. Black Lives Matter is an affirmative statement.   It does not deny the value of others.  When we hear that the administration will only target “bad hombres” for deportation as an excuse to discriminate against Latino workers, we need to call the lie a lie.  Hardworking people seeking a better life, the American Dreamers, are brutally taken from worksites and education and health care facilities.  We must continue to assert the civil rights of all and treat all families with humanity.


“Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.  Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” Elie Wiesel

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