These past days have been incredibly difficult for Minnesota, for our members, for us. While as a credit union community we are physically unharmed, we are mentally shaken by the tragic death of George Floyd and the subsequent events that followed. It was incredibly difficult to watch rage boil over into the destruction of a thriving, multicultural residential and commercial sector of Minneapolis. It was heartbreaking to see the unchallenged destruction of government buildings when a post office and police precinct building were over-run, vandalized and burned. It was equally disheartening to see that a full mobilization of the Minnesota National Guard was required to help re-establish order in the streets of Minneapolis and St Paul.
There is also hope. It was heartwarming to see brigades of volunteers from all sectors of the community converge with brooms and shovels on Sunday morning to help clean up neighborhoods that are not their own. Charities have been overwhelmed by donations of water, food, and other personal necessities of daily life. Incredible generosity - that is also part of Minnesota.
Yet the anger is still there - burning. It has always been there. Mostly we as a society have chosen not to see it. We ignore it – until we cannot. And then we really just want to turn down the heat. But we have never actually worked to extinguish the flame. This has to change, and credit unions cannot be bystanders. We must be participants. DEI can no longer be an industry buzzword or HR Department responsibility, but viewed by all in our industry with a much broader lens, and tangible steps taken forward at the most basic level.
I am sure many of you have noticed the Open Your Eyes to a Credit Union bus ad that was present at the time of George Floyd’s murder, captured on video. These images will be with us for a long time as the cases against the four officers proceed through the judicial system. For all of us, these images should be a powerful reminder that credit unions serve people – all people. And that we are present – even in the most difficult times. Over the years we have worked together and made significant contributions to our communities; you have grassroots organized, volunteered, shared acts of kindness – these strengths and values of our movement can hold us up – even when the world seems to be falling apart.
Your work to help members during a pandemic and now civil unrest – and the economic impacts that will follow - is vitally important and a great example of how credit unions can be a force for good in the world. I look forward to continued conversations on how we can cooperatively leverage our unique business model to serve all people, and instigate real and positive change in our communities.
Together, we will make a difference!
Mark D. Cummins
President & CEO, Minnesota Credit Union Network
.The Pulse is MnCUN's newsletter that keeps credit union professionals and board members updated on current news and information.