Since the beginning of the year, the world has changed in the blink of an eye. A global pandemic, a crashing economy, and the fight for racial justice are just a few things we have had to experience over these last six months in addition to protests, looting, and demands for defunding and abolishing the police; it has left many disenfranchised communities on Chicago’s south and west sides in desperate need of rebuilding.
Community leader and senior pastor of St. Sabina Church in Auburn Gresham, Father Michael Pfleger, recently received criticism for his status criticizing Walgreens for hiring a Hispanic construction company rather than a Black-owned one. With over one thousand comments, many people defended Walgreens’ choice. Some say that it’s a personal choice; some say it could be because of contracts they have in place; others proclaimed that it might be a better deal. Regardless of the reasons, Father Pfleger was not here for the criticism.
“…I am really surprised at the responses condemning me for wanting to support Black Workers to work in the Black Community. I seek to disrespect NO One, I’m simply trying to make sure the hashtag Black Lives Matter is more than a phrase we toss around…”
What Father Pfleger said was not wrong. On average, the black dollar lasts about 6 hours in our communities. If economic independence is one of the ways to fight racial injustice, why wouldn’t we advocate for Black-owned businesses to clean up the communities in which we live? There are plenty of Black-owned construction companies that are more than qualified to have a contract with Walgreens, even if its leadership team is less than diversified. However, aside from major white-led corporations hiring Black-owned businesses for their labor, smaller Black-owned businesses should collaborate with other Black-owned businesses to circulate the dollar longer than six hours.
Chicago is severely segregated and alleged racial tensions between Black and Hispanic people were reported to be high a few weeks ago. If the allegations are correct, then there is no way that a Black-owned company could set up shop and contribute to that community without objection.
Why isn’t the Black community given that same grace when it comes to who we allow in and out of our communities?