Greater Austin Black Chamber Of Commerce Releases Statement In Light Of Current Events
Today, President and CEO of the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce (GABC), Tam Hawkins, shares a personal statement in response to the current climate of social injustice in the United States of America and in support of the Austin black business community.
"I marched during what is now known as the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, our peaceful protest was hijacked by the mental anguish and fear of a few people determined to go a different route," said Tam Hawkins. "Like many of you, I am saddened that we are here again. I am saddened that the arduous, tireless work in accountability and transparency performed by new and old iconic organizations like GABC, NAACP, Austin Area Urban League, Austin Justice Coalition, and Measure Austin has not been accepted quickly enough to dismantle horrific systems of racism. My sincere hope is that my now 13-year-old son is not working on the same exact issues 28 years later or God forbid we have an entirely different scenario because his life was not given the same value as other lives.
"Let us not forget that economic, educational, and health disparities are closely related if not causational in nature to the scenes played repeatedly in the senseless deaths and malicious mistreatment of black people here in Austin and worldwide. Consider for one moment the problems the United States of America faces with police race relations and communities of color are not isolated from larger systemic complexes of too long endured racist practices and policies abound.
"I am not certain of the exact road ahead. The one thing I know for sure is that it is imperative structural changes occur in these systems of oppression. Continuation of the aforementioned mistakes is to not fully comprehend that although the racial unrest and protests are about a particular structure that permits this sort of police brutality to exist, the other structures - subpar education, stark economic disparities, and bleak health outcomes - are the parents of deadly police force. Bad policy always has a negative impact and sometimes it even costs lives.
"Friends and colleagues, many of you have called, written and posted your heartbreak along with questions of 'What can we do?' We can right now register to vote, know your election cycles (July 14 - Runoff Primary Election), and take the census. The future will require more hard work, not only from black people entrenched in the daily rigors of fighting racism, but the work of others is vital too. It is no longer valid to sit in a position of moral authority and proclaim, 'I'm not racist.' It will require you to be anti-racist and actively engage in the daily fight that many have endured for generations."