Emanuel: ‘Diversity comes when barriers are broken down’
April 21st, 2018
Following is the speech Mayor Rahm Emanuel gave at the annual Chicago Cares breakfast promoting voluntarism. It was held at the Four Seasons Hotel on April 20, 2018.
In our schools, we have 140 languages spoken.
That is a lot of diversity, as you can imagine. That’s a great strength.
But the only way to make that diversity a strength is to have a common foundation underneath it. Otherwise, that diversity pulls you apart and we’re seeing that around the world. We’re seeing it around the country.
We can set an example in this city of what it means to have one city, one future. I think we can make diversity work for us by having a common identity, and common future and common foundation together.
So to have all that diversity work together, we have to break down the barriers that separate us. Yes, (there’s) North Side-South Side, South Side-West Side, Northwest Side-Southwest Side.
You can have a lot of prides in your own ethnicity, your own culture, your own background. But you also have to have an opportunity to build something that’s on a foundation and is shared together.
The way I think of this: there’s a picture of the city, that image of downtown, and when you look at it, it’s from the south side (looking north) into the city. I just cut a ribbon yesterday at the 95th station, where we’ll have the new Theaster Gates art piece in it.
If you think about it this way, and I kinda get kind weepy as this point in my life now. My youngest is going to get out of high school (in the coming days), and I think back about what Amy and I have done and I look at my kids and I look at what the role I have as mayor –the 380,000 children I’m responsible for.
Kids cannot be what they cannot see. On the other hand, they have more potential to be what they cannot see. I look at what Zach, Ilana and Leah are doing, and I look back and I ask what we did right and what we did wrong. And I look at kids in schools every week, multiple schools every week, and I think about that image of that picture. If you’re a child–and remember, that city image of us looking back to ourselves and that’s the image that we portray to the world and the rest of the country.
If your’e a child from Ravenswood or a child from Roseland; a child from Woodlawn or Wildwood, Edgewater or Englewood, you look at that image–the image of us to ourselves and the image of us to everybody else, and you have the same respect. Look at that strength, that optimism, that future–Beijing, London, New York, Berlin, watch out, Chicago is coming for ya.
If a child from Ravenwood has a different image of that city than a child from Roseland, we will never be who we can be. Instead, one thinks that they have the future…and the other thinks it’s a foreign land. And it’s only the same distance by miles.
What Chicago Cares does is build the foundation underneath that diversity, underneath that perspective, and creates one city with one future. That’s why it’s so important what you do in creating that sense that every child counts.
In a lot of parts of the city, the deck is stacked against our kids. What Chicago Cares does is to reshuffle that deck to give kids–regardless of their background and neighborhood–is to give them the same chance. That’s what we’re trying to do.
We have got great kids. All have the same aspiration, regardless of zip code, ethnicity, race, denomination or income. Our challenge is racism because this family of Chicago and what Chicago Cares does, it makes us feel like one family.