I see the fires in Aurora and Chicago, and this afternoon downtown Naperville is temporarily closing up in response to potentially violent protests. Reports of looting and mayhem, possibly instigated by provocateurs and opportunists and fueled by pent-up frustration, should not distract us from the important work ahead of us. George Floyd’s murder under the knee of a policeman and the COVID-19 outbreak have laid bare an issue that has always been here: racial disparity in America.

Inequities exist in every aspect of American life, including job access, obtaining a quality education, access to food, housing, health care, and unfair treatment by police and courts. In DuPage County, the case rate for COVID-19 is 2.3 times higher for African Americans than white residents, and the morality rate is 1.7 times higher. No camera has been there as witness, but it’s real and it’s heartbreaking.

People of color suffer in Illinois, oppression stops when the oppressor stops. To the African American community, I hear you, I see you and I commit to joining you in the fight to end systematic racism. Do not let rhetoric and misinformation divide us in protecting basic rights for all. Demand the best from your schools, police, community and representatives. Demand it from me.