To the Editor:
I just read the article, “Bell County designates August as Black Business Month” and want to make an observation of the quote attributed to the new Black Chamber of Commerce president which states in part, “… this is the beginning of what the future looks like of actually coming together in unison and knowing where we’re going forward.”
Actually, we are accelerating away from moving forward “in unison.” Why do we still see a need for different chambers of commerce with a color or ethnic descriptor delineating us? How does that contribute to coming together?
The population of Killeen and the immediate surrounding area is more diverse and balanced than anywhere perhaps apart from Houston. Nearly equally divided between White, Black, and Hispanic (with a notable underrepresentation of Asians), this community is, like the U.S. Army that is so much part of its story, a melting pot of all U.S. citizens.
The Hispanic Chamber started in 2010. The new Black Chamber started in 2019. Both advocate for the economic interests of Hispanic and Black interests respectively as well as others’ non-Hispanic/non-black interests, but isn’t that what the non-hyphenated chambers are all about?
If the definition of a chamber of commerce is “an association or network of businesspeople designed to promote and protect the interests of its members,” is it not in our collective best interests going forward to network and promote all of our businesses “in unison” and together?
If the non-hyphenated chambers are insufficient as a networking association for every business person of every color, are we also implying that the chambers that start with a color or ethnic identifier don’t believe that the broad-based, color-blind chambers are capable of protecting the interests of all?
We should all hope not.
If we’re a community that desires to be a model of racial inclusiveness, every chamber should ask itself, how do we bring together the business networks of all colors, of all ethnicities, and stop the subtle divisiveness that comes when we put a color in front of our association.