Deaths like George Floyd’s are not isolated incidents. Rather, they reveal deep systemic racism throughout our country and, yes, in Allen County. As we grapple with solutions, people of color are saying, “Listen to us! Let us tell you what needs to be changed and how.”
Here in Allen County, it is time to listen. At present every economic development board in the county lacks any black representation and almost all exclude millennials. That needs to change immediately.
We need to listen to the Lima African American Chamber of Commerce, which issued an important statement in response to recent events. The LAACC rightly points out that economic inequality based on race holds back our whole region. They urge the city and county governments to work with churches, labor, and private industry to devise sustainable, actionable policies to reduce structural racism. These should include:
• small business supports.
• equitable procurement and contracting.
• collecting data.
• building new partnerships.
One concrete improvement would be to carry out Lima City Council member Carla Thompson’s proposal to revive the Lima and Allen Country Human Relations Council. A Human Relations Council promotes equal access to health, housing, education and employment. Its goal is to prevent and end discrimination based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, age, disability or sexual orientation. Most important, it would provide resources and referrals to solve problems of hate and discrimination.
By listening to people of color in Allen County, we can strengthen the community for us all. The time is now.