Take the Pledge to invest in our youth.

Take the Pledge to invest in our workforce.

Take the Pledge to invest in our communities.

Take the Pledge to invest in eliminating racial inequities in employment.

As we sit here today, about to begin the summer of 2020, where, historically in Chicago, it can be a deadly season for many of our black and brown youth. Where overall youth unemployment indicators are not good, running at an estimated 25 percent, we need to act now and tackle this subject head on before we continue to make national headlines on crime statistics which only serve to further terrify our communities in every way.

With the state of our local economy struggling, in the wake of an ongoing pandemic, black and brown workers have disproportionately experienced temporary and permanent job loss or income reduction. Unemployment claims for black residents have been filed at a higher rate than any other group. The national unemployment rate is now in the mid-teens, as is the unemployment rate in Illinois at 16.4 percent. This is roughly equivalent to more than 1 million people in the state of Illinois alone.

Think about that. What is the solution? Well now, as we reopen our economy and begin to recover, we would implore all to take the pledge to hire black and brown applicants at all levels, to invest in our workforce and youth while constantly diversifying.

In Chicago, here is what we can do. We are a city council where 32 out of 50 council members form part of the Black and Latino Caucuses. Let’s take the pledge to bring new investments to our communities and then take it a step further. We have a responsibility to ask small businesses and big companies to commit to employing our residents. Let’s host local job fairs instead of ribbon cuttings. We must maximize the investments that come into our wards as a catalyst to the employment of our constituents.

I know for a fact that there is a lot of talent in my neighborhood. I challenge my colleagues that represent the other 18 wards to take the pledge to diversify as well. Now is the time to expand and invest in our youth and our entire workforce. Now is the time to go big and do what is right to eliminate inequities in employment.

My colleagues know that I don’t get tired of saying this to developers and contractors throughout the city of Chicago – when coming forward with projects that require City Council approval, please keep in mind that 32 members of the City Council are either black or brown, and that we are demanding that on every project there be a reflection of the makeup of the city of Chicago. Any developer or contractor that seeks City Council approval needs to take this into account and consider that there must be equitable diversity and parity in the ensuing employment numbers when awarding these contracts.

Let’s take the pledge to invest in our black and brown communities. Chicago, let’s work together to make national headlines on eliminating the racial inequities in employment with our transformative investment. Take the pledge.

Gilbert Villegas is the City of Chicago 36th Ward Alderman, Chairman of the Economic, Capital and Technology Committee, and City Council Floor Leader.