Last month the Will County Board had its first prayer delivered by a non-christian faith.  It came after discussion about 2 board members having given the invocation over 7 times in the last year.  Several board members including myself were concerned about the image this might portray to anyone coming before our board on an issue that was of a non christian faith.  There have been cases in other states where the board was sued due to the plaintiff not getting approval for a request and the plaintiff perceived that it was because they practiced a different faith.  The board ultimately voted to keep the current rule in place and just change how the task is managed.  However I voted against in committee because I do value diversity. Exposing ourselves to other cultures, ideas and values can stretch our minds and give us new outlooks.  Had our European ancestors done this we could have avoided a few Indian wars, not to mention the Civil War.  We need to practice what the “good book” says and do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

Diversity is the real or perceived differences between individuals. …Multiculturalism is a term that is similar to diversity, but it focuses on development of a greater understanding of how power in society can be unequal due to race, gender, sexual orientation, power, and privilege. We here in District 4 have a wide multi culture presence, in fact over 50% of our residents are minorities.  As your representative I try to be aware of how we can silo ourselves and view others differently and I felt is was important to allow all faiths and those of a non-faith to feel represented at our board meetings.  We were simply asking for choice, asking that each board member be allowed to either bring in a religious leader or have a moment of silence.  I saw no reason to not support this, but there are some on our board that don’t show respect of multiculturalism and diversity the same way I do.

Our nation was founded on “freedom of religion”, that to me includes all faiths and those of non faith. I recently finished a book called “White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide” by Carol Anderson, if you haven’t heard of it take a look here . It is a great history book, over 100 years, that is a sobering primer on the myriad ways African American resilience and triumph over enslavement, Jim Crow and intolerance have been relentlessly defied by the very institutions entrusted to uphold our democracy. Once you slap God on something it becomes very powerful and in the case of slavery it was horrific.  I hope that one day we will stop using “God” as a weapon.

I would also like to urge you to attend next weeks (Feb. 9th) “21st Annual Black History Month” celebration at Bolingbrook High School from 2 to 5PM. Each year this club puts on a fantastic cultural event.  Learn about your neighbors past present and future.