by Eileen Hogan Heineman, Director, Racial Justice Program
Posted June 29, 2017
As our country heads into 4th of July celebrations, I am very concerned. To be honest, I am angry. The phrase “with liberty and justice for all” keeps running through my head.
As I write this, our state is on the precipice of entering its third year without a budget. Why? Mostly because two men in positions of power, Governor Rauner and Speaker Madigan, 1) refuse to compromise; 2) get away with it because other elected officials are afraid to stand up to them; and 3) are so disconnected from people who are most impacted by their stubborn impasse that they can ignore the jobs that have been lost, the agencies that provided critical services that have closed, the programs that have been cut, and the thousands of Illinois residents who have been negatively impacted about what has been done, among them our most vulnerable citizens. I’d like to see what the human cost is across the state of Illinois.
- social service agencies have closed?
- agencies, like YWCA Evanston/North Shore, have had to lay off valued staff members?
- women and children experiencing domestic violence no longer have access to a counselor or safe housing?
- elementary school students no longer have a safe after school program to attend?
- people with mental health issues have had their services cut?
- children no longer have access to early childhood education?
Most of those directly affected by the lack of a budget are the same people who are regularly marginalized by those in power. Is this justice for all?
I am concerned about the messages our young people are getting, every single day, about how things work in the United States: bullies can wear the disguise of leaders; white supremacists can disguise themselves as patriots; victims can be blamed when the system fails them and good-hearted people can be disheartened, or even silenced.
This 4th of July is an opportune time to raise questions and change the narrative. It is the duty of every one of us to continue to work for a “more perfect union” and fight to ensure that our “beloved community” is inclusive of all. So raise the tough questions, contact legislators daily, talk with your family, neighbors, friends until “With liberty and justice for all” is the real narrative for the United States of America.