The Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, just five years removed from being chosen as the best in all of the United States, has just crashed and burned. Chamber president Christy Gillenwater, surely spurred by Board Chair and black activist Valoria Armstrong, shook the Chatttanooga business community to its core Thursday. When it was learned the “woke” movement has generated a Chamber-led “CEO Pledge for Racial Equity,” the reactions went from “stunned and shocked” to “How does ‘this’ fit with ‘that’?”
The overwhelming majority of city and county taxpayers – whose elected leaders appropriate over $400,000 to the Chamber to enhance the business economy – are aghast to learn they have lived for years in a community of systemic racism and I, as a lifelong citizen, will testify under oath that I believe Ms.
Gillenwater is a flat-out liar in her grossly-wrong public stand. Such rhetoric in these uncertain times is both unconscionable and woefully unnecessary under even the best circumstance.
What on earth beckoned this insult to our community? What could cause a business generator to abandon its duty as a community partner to suddenly embrace a social problem that is so awkward and so wrong it is assured failure on two fronts: The American people are fed up with apologizing or being forced by crafty manipulators to falsely share the responsibility of a rogue police officer in Minneapolis. Add the fact the Left’s martyr was a drugged-up thug of the first order, so don’t bring your guilt caravan to our Eighth & Broad. This community ain’t buying.
We also aren’t buying what out-of-the-blue reason Gillenwater & Armstrong picked their timing. The simple question of “Why, and particularly right now?” will forever linger at the mention of her ‘Notable Female Liberal Elites’ but what is more saddening is Gillenwater & Armstrong have slandered over 360,000 fine and decent people in Hamilton County, good people black and white and brown and other. Nary a one of us looks in their morning mirror and sees the reflection of either a systemic or systematic racist. I am totally convinced the Chamber has just dropped to its lowest level and why? Because of two women who dismally misjudged the vast majority of a wonderful community all for naught two weeks from now.
Any and all of us know this “woke” ridiculousness will be short-lived. The ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement has been outed as a sham, taking money from many black and liberal whites who today look in their hearts and find – hello! – zero in return. The NAACP is a mere shell of what it could have been, the interference of condescending federal monies making any contributions totally unnecessary. Black-on-black shootings and the illicit drug trade have played havoc in urban black communities. And as we sense a lull in what will be a lifetime of COVID concern, some miscalculating forces have learned a rebirth of civil rights baloney is our newest “don’t go there” moment.
The most horrifying glimpse of racism in the past decade emerged in the recent Mayor race when white candidates - eventual Mayor Tim Kelly and first runner-up Kim White - were summoned on a Saturday morning to a predominately black church in Brainerd for a “forum.” It was anything but. It was racial bullying so sickening that Kelly was allegedly forced to admit he was white, that Kelly was allegedly forced to confirm his next police chief will be black, that Kelly was allegedly forced to affirm he and his wife Jenny were considering membership at the predominantly black Olivet Baptist Church and worse.
Every eyewitness account I spoke with confirmed those 20-to-30 black leaders who attended – no whites nor Hispanics -- were intense in the gauntlet-like ordeal and, truthfully, I am a bit surprised a Federal-type of investigation of conspiracy should not be brought against a group of pastors who, too, seem to have lost their main purpose in a spirit-filled journey.
So, where do we go from here?
* -- 1.) IF YOU AGREE that you are a member of the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce and agree that you are part and parcel to “a history of systemic racism in Chattanooga and Hamilton County,” download the CEO Pledge of Racial Equity, aspire to its “We Will…” list of demands, and sign in pencil. (Many mental development centers do not allow pens, therefore a No. 2 pencil is acceptable.)
* -- 2.) IF YOU ARE A MEMBER of the Chamber and are acclimated to “CofC brain spasms,” simply do nothing and watch the train wreck.
* -- 3.) IF YOU ARE A MEMBER of the Chamber and are nonplussed that you are a “systemic racist,” simply do nothing; you deserve them and they deserve you. Just pay the bills.
* -- 4.) IF YOU ARE A MEMBER of the Chamber and miffed that you are regarded as a “systemic racist,” then until the Chamber comes to its senses, dial 423/ 756-2121 … request membership services … and resign effective this date. Send a confirmation letter to: Membership Services, Chattanooga CofC; 811 Broad Street, Chattanooga TN 37402. (They’ve heard from the disappointed, the disgruntled, the disgusted … but when you quit em, that’s ice water.)
* -- 5) IF YOU ARE NOT A MEMBER of the Chamber, but revile its actions, please request budget revisions from Hamilton County (c/o County Mayor Jim Coppinger, H.C. Courthouse, Georgia Avenue, Chattanooga, TN 37402) or from the City of Chattanooga (c/o Mayor Tim Kelly, CofChattanooga, 101 East 11th Street, Chattanooga, TN 37402)