As part of our “You Said It” Op-Ed series, we invite contributors to submit their opinion pieces. The views reflected in these pieces are not necessarily our own. Have a submission? Contact us here.
We were compelled to respond to the comments addressed to Governor Pritzker in the op-ed “Hear Our Stories, Save Our Communities,” submitted by Sylvie Légère. We live in her community and see a far different picture than the author paints.
We recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic has created hardships for many people–although communities of color, the poor and the medically vulnerable are those suffering disproportionately. Here on the North Shore, we see our community rallying to support neighbors, frontline caregivers and local businesses. Just one example among many is a locally organized “meal train” that delivered more than 1,000 meals to St. Francis Hospital’s medical staff–supporting many local restaurants in the process. Ms. Légère’s article describes a grim picture of neighbors disconnected from one another, when in fact we are actively working together to support our front-line workers and our valued local small businesses.
The criticism in Ms. Légère’s article is aimed solely at Governor Pritzker, who has earned widespread praise for his strong guidance during this crisis. Pritzker and other governors across the country–Democrats and Republicans, alike–have stepped up in the absence of leadership from the White House.
Ms. Légère contends that Governor Pritzker’s reopening plans do not adequately consider the needs of his constituents, specifically small business owners; however, these claims require scrutiny. Ms. Légère has close ties to the Trump administration, and her family owns the Chicago Cubs. Ms. Légère has a significant personal financial stake in a fast reopening in Illinois, and political motivation to malign Governor Pritzker’s work.
Ms. Légère expresses concern with the plight of women, a concern we share as this crisis has only exacerbated existing gender inequality. Ms. Légère asks “Who is speaking for us?” In answer, we note that powerful leaders are standing for women, small businesses and all of us in Illinois: the offices of Lieutenant Governor, Chicago Mayor, Cook County Executive, Treasurer, and Clerk, the IL Department of Public Health Director, and IL Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity are all currently led by women who support the lives of Illinoisans through cautious and caring leadership during the pandemic.
We recognize that this is a tough time for all of us – although what is an inconvenience for some is a life-threatening situation for others. Ms. Légère’s comparison of blood collection to hair salons is particularly inapt. Clearly, we all need a haircut (and, in fact, hair salons appear likely to re-open in Illinois in early June). However, people are dying without blood, and the delay in re-opening salons in order to “flatten the curve” and slow the spread of COVID-19 pales in comparison to the urgent need for blood drives.
We believe that what is required today is empathy, understanding and patience. We’ve seen that woven throughout the fabric of our community, where the challenges of the pandemic have brought out the best in our friends and neighbors.
Signed: Kimberly Alcantara, Candance Chow, Cecilia Clarke, Gail Schnitzer Eisenberg, Laurie Goldstein, Susan Newcomb, Anne Hayden Stevens, Anne Haack Sullivan, Michele H. Thorne, Leslie Weyhrich, Wendi Williams