BLACK LIVES MATTER.
Our mission at speech IRL is, and has always been, to strengthen, elevate, and amplify marginalized voices. Discrimination and injustice are everyday topics in our office, experienced by our clients who are neurodiverse, LBGTQ+, disabled, from minority cultural, ethnic, and racial backgrounds. As of this writing, we commemorate Pride month.
But right now, this time that we are living through, we join with so many others and use our full voice to say that Black Lives Matter.
What We're Speaking
We speak out against the injustices perpetrated against Black Americans by our institutions of power and authority. We condemn the conversations, actions, and choices that systemically approve these injustices: by law enforcement, local, state, and the federal government, justice institutions, private business, and our educational system. We add our voice to the crowd demanding that leaders in our City, state of Illinois, and federal government bodies commit time, money, policy, emotional labor, and physical bodies so that Black people can safely and confidently thrive in our community.
We condemn the abdication of leadership and untruth-telling that has perpetuated the pains and sorrows of slavery, still experienced first-hand by Black mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and children in 2020.
As a white business owner in one of the whitest industries in America, we recognize our privilege of safety, power, and wealth. We struggle with our limitations in understanding. We have participated in the choices and actions above. We fully acknowledge that we contribute to these pains.
We call out our white organizations who style themselves "advocates" and yet refuse to say anything meaningful. ASHA, do better.
As speech-language pathologists, we are deeply intimate with the power of words and the importance of speaking up. We are also deeply aware that there are many, many times when just speaking is not enough. For those with privilege, hashtags don’t cut it.
What We're Doing: New Actions
- We have donated 10% of our gross revenues from May 2020 to the Small Business Relief Fund through My Block My Hood My City and the Chicago Community Bond Fund.
- We have established a social justice donation commitment, where 10% of our monthly profits will be donated to organizations in Chicago supporting minority communities and causes. At least 4% of profits will be reserved for programs that address racial inequality and justice.
- We have added a new stack of books to our speech IRL Community Library, by Black and NBPOC authors. These books are a mix of fiction and non-fiction; the majority are about racial justice and the experiences of Black Americans. We purchased these books from Semicolon Bookstore, a Black-owned Chicago business. These books are available for our staff, clients, visitors, and anyone who would like to borrow a good read. (We’re not in the office much right now -- but we’ll mail a copy to you, if you’re eager!)
What We're Doing: Renewed Commitments
- We are continuing to refine and define our hiring practices to make ourselves as accessible and inclusive as possible to job seekers from diverse backgrounds. This includes new efforts to further anonymize and standardize student intern applications, and prioritizing City job boards and educational institutions (CPS, City Colleges) as resources recruiting talent.
- We are continuing to build partnerships with organizations that seek to create a more equitable world. We are honored and overjoyed to begin working with Year Up Chicago in a few weeks.
- We commit to figuring out ways to be even louder within our industry of speech-language pathology, where 92% of professionals are white. This includes participating in social media, using our own blog and social platforms to get more BIPOC SLP voices and issues out there, and increasing our involvement with organizational bodies and structures.
These actions and commitments are not enough. We share our attempts in the hopes that our business partners, colleagues, and community will likewise commit to real action, beyond words and statements.
Finally, we recommit to our most basic activity, which is to empower healing connection by strengthening communication. We have beloved clients who are police officers. We have beloved clients who passionately seek new careers in law enforcement, so that they can serve people and be a force for good. And we have beloved clients who have suffered discrimination, abuse, and injustice at the hands of the police, the justice system, and the general white powers of wealth and authority. We work with people, and are deeply honored by every individual who comes to us seeking to communicate more effectively with the world around them. As we grieve the events of this week, steel ourselves for the hard work of looking inward and advocating outward, we also remember this: hope.
But there is only hope if we speak out, listen, and work.