Dear Main Street America Network,
Main Street America mourns the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and countless others. We stand resolutely for peace, justice, accountability, and fair treatment of all people. We are committed to taking action against systemic racism and discrimination in all its forms. The humanity and dignity of every person must be honored and respected in our public spaces.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, Main Street programs across the country have stepped up to do the essential work of supporting businesses and communities at large in light of closures and social distancing guidelines. Moving into the recovery phase, many are rediscovering the simple joy of patronizing businesses and enjoying a commercial corridor. It’s all the more striking, then, that George Floyd’s death occurred in what should have been a safe and welcoming space: a neighborhood commercial district where people of every race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation live, work, and shop.
In response to the pandemic, Main Street programs have focused on “shopping safely” in ways that were previously unimagined with face masks, sanitizing stations, and public awareness campaigns. But we must recognize that for many – specifically black and brown members of our communities – safety has never been the norm. Racial inequality is deeply embedded in our society, and the advantages of feeling safe are routinely denied to people of color, whether shopping, walking in a park, jogging, or exercising the right to be heard. The societal upheaval in the past week lays bare the truth that our work to create safe and prosperous public spaces is far from finished.
Across the Main Street America Network, the response to COVID-19 has been overwhelming. You have moved mountains to sustain your businesses and communities. You have rapidly restructured your work, sought resources, advocated for support, and implemented new programs within days. You have demonstrated the power of working with others across the community to respond to a crisis. As we plan our recovery, my hope is that we all respond to the crisis of inequality with the same fervor, standing up to bigotry and violence and resisting a return to the status quo.
Main Street America is committed to this vision for shared prosperity, and we know that Main Streets can be a force for good in addressing the challenge of racial inequity.