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Pushing Through The Pandemic By Lord Mic Williams

As the “Age of COVID” wages on, the Illinois State Black Chamber of Commerce pushes through the pandemic to help Black-owned businesses access resources to work through their reopening scenarios. We place nothing above the health of our community. We also recognize the importance of conducting business. These dynamics, oddly enough, created a volatile balance and an edgy environment. There were so many people and business owners that were hurting. And, in some cases, falling to the wayside. Everyday life became a vicious treadmill of intensely over-sensationalized and often conflicting messaging, and we were all trapped in it. One thing was becoming painfully clearer with every passing day; The American economy was in dire peril, and small and Black businesses were taking the brunt of the contraction.

Then, in the midst of the COVID chaos, the “George Floyd” incident happened and the powder keg exploded into days of expressions of rage, rioting & looting all across America. The structural violence that had flown under the radar of most White America, but which has created the broader conditions of detriment in Black communities, was being perpetrated under the guise of rebelling and exacting sharp retribution…and it was being televised! The modern-day lynching of Blacks, physical, economic, or otherwise, will be suffered in silence no longer.

The Illinois State Black Chamber of Commerce (ILBCC) has hosted several conference calls and webinars with participants from all across the country, all aimed at sharing critical information about and connecting with pandemic resources for businesses (CARES Act, PPP…etc). These conversations have evolved along with the resourcing opportunities. As it stands, there are still funds in the various pots including the PPP and EIDL, as well as with the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the Small Business Administration. The key is in understanding what types of businesses these particular funds apply to and how to access them. The other side of it is recognizing how to be best prepared for future opportunities. Don’t hesitate to reach out to these organizations directly for assistance.

Another of those opportunities is with the law firm of Loevy & Loevy and a class action lawsuit blowing the lid off of biased lending practices of major accredited banking institutions. After generations of hyper obvious racist subjugation in the banking sector, there is finally an act nearly as hostile to counter this domination. We’re encouraging all of our members that have had illogically adverse banking encounters and/or who were denied CARES Act resources to follow up with the firm. Your participation could help change the narrative for Black businesses.

Recent comments made by the Democratic Nominee Joe Biden that, in effect, deemed what it meant to be Black punctuated the importance of not just being culturally sensitive but being transactionally responsive to this key voting block. The Black community is beginning to voice requests for Vice President Picks and other nominal agenda items but, especially in light of “Uncle Joe’s” keen insight into the making of the Black American, we should demand that both/all candidates and their parties appropriately and measurably vie for the favor of the Black vote. To make it plain; we ought not to give our vote away for free or for empty promises. We should set and appropriately manage expectations.

Operating under the equation (Relationship+Transactions=Transformation), the Chamber has been working with our partners and industry groups to help kick our entrepreneurs, businesses, and economy back into gear and on track. Wherever you factor into this calculation will result in a win for your business and the overall Black business community.

Generations of institutionalized socioeconomic disparities have resulted in the highest rates of chronic diseases, crime rates, mortality rates, poverty, and concentrated housing in Black communities. The Chamber knows that it will require a consistently applied coordinated campaign of programmatic initiatives of matching and greater proportions to counteract the detriments set in place. Your continued support is critical to successfully pushing through the pandemic and advancing our agenda in this New Normal. The saga continues!

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The Chamber’s Board of Directors is looking forward to convening in Chicago at the United Center with full fanfare for their annual meeting just as soon as the greater social health condition permits! The Illinois State Black Chamber is still driving key agenda items and initiatives, including the Sheltered Market, the LobbyDay2020 legislative agenda, and the annual ILBCC State convention. We look forward to celebrating premier relationships, highlighting special transactions, and spotlight true transformations with you this fall, so we hope that things hold well for us all. We’ll keep you abreast of all of our scheduled event adjustments as they happen.

Despite some cloudy days and a few hazy situations, the horizon is still bright for Illinois’ Black businesses and communities, so stay tuned and stay engaged! Please know that the Chamber is here to help YOU position for success! Plugging in and beginning your journey of personal and professional growth and development is very important to us!

Get a bird’s eye view of what’s important to the Black business community by texting ILBCC to 22828 for a free subscription to the Chamber Business NewsJournal.

For more information on the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce visit the new www.ILBCC.org