An Open Letter to Our Community

We at the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce (JACC) are heartbroken and enraged by the continued, violent mistreatment of the Black community. The unjust and tragic murders of George Floyd and many others in the Black community cannot be ignored. We send our deepest sympathy to the families, friends, and communities that are grieving. Even though we can’t begin to know the pain and anguish being felt, we stand with Black people in the Joplin community and beyond who continue to experience violence and racism.

In the last year, the Chamber has organized an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) work group and hired an EDI officer, but we still have so much work to do. Meaningful changes and contributions will start with how we operate the JACC. For 103 years, the benefits and privileges of membership to this institution have been enjoyed, almost exclusively, by white business owners.  And until a generation ago, almost exclusively, by white male business owners. We acknowledge our institution has been part of the problem of institutionalized racism and sexism where decisions, public policies, and business deals benefit the white privileged, thus reinforcing long-standing racial, gender, and class inequities.

I’m holding myself accountable. I’m holding the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce accountable. This will include making changes to our hiring practices and employment manual to ensure equitable inclusion of people of different races, ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations, ages, social classes, and physical and mental abilities or attributes. Also, dedicating more resources to ensure Joplin’s Black-owned businesses, entrepreneurs, and business professionals are included, supported, and championed. 

The Chamber’s mission is to improve the economic prosperity and quality of life in the Joplin region; and to be the principal advocate for, and provider of services to, its business community. That includes improving the economic prosperity and quality of life of our Black community, which means holding other community institutions more accountable. Just as we acknowledge being part of the problem, the Chamber challenges area police departments, municipalities, businesses, schools, and nonprofits to (1) REVIEW your policies, procedures, and practices to ensure they provide opportunity, humanity, safety, and dignity for every person (*This includes use-of-force reforms for our local police departments that would build trust, save lives, and lead to decreased crime); (2) ENGAGE your stakeholders by including a diverse range of input, experiences, and stories in your policy, procedural, and programmatic reviews; and (3) REPORT the findings of your reviews to your stakeholders and seek feedback for ongoing accountability and improvement to (4) REFORM your policies.

Regrettably, we cannot change the past but we should do everything we can to change the future of this nation. It starts here, in Joplin. It starts now, with us.

 

Tobias Teeter

President & CEO

Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce

 

14 Comments

  1. I have issues with current members slandering my name and my business and forcing me to think Joplin is not the place for me during a period where o call it home.

  2. Thank you for saying all of the things that need to be said in this pivotal moment in history so that the people of Joplin understand that this is a place of acceptance.

  3. WTH? This is ridiculous..LEAVE JOPLIN or quit being spineless wimps!
    I’m hispanic and have lived in this town almost my entire life..there is NO systemic racism here..YOU PEOPLE SAYING THIS ARE AN ABSOLUTE EMBARRASSMENT TO JOPLIN, HOW DARE YOU! TAKE YOUR MARXIST BS TO SEATTLE! Ilived in Democratic run Dallas for a while…they might have systemic racism because they have systemic corruption and the people are not friendly like they are here!

  4. I just want to commend Mr. Teeter for this impactful and humble letter. There are not many small towns in our conservative Missouri that share this mentality, or openly express these acknowledgements and plans for bettering the community so openly. I stand with the JACC, and am proud to live in Joplin. Let’s continue to heal and more forward to a better Missouri together.

  5. Thank you so much for the beautiful message! Joplin has grown at an exceptional rate with you as a leader and this letter proves why!
    Again, thank you!!

  6. I am neither a Joplin business owner, nor a resident, but spend much of my income in Joplin area businesses. I completely agree with Mr. teeter’s letter, and hope positive changes are made.

  7. I support Toby Teeter and his stance 1,000% we are long overdue for change not only in our community but around the world! Change never comes at an easy price but it’s absolutely and unequivocally necessary! We don’t live in the dark ages so we need to stop acting like we do! It’s time for growth, prosperity and change for all

  8. From the town that raised me, I am proud to know Toby personally, to now have been a past Chamber member (I have since moved to NYC), and to have also been a tenant in their Innovation Center. All my interactions with their staff have been pleasant, and I am sure they all mean well for the city. Backing and moving forward with this mentality of proactive and blatant equality is a HUGE WIN for Joplin. Thank you, Toby and his supportive team!

  9. I agree that some parts of our country have current issues with race. Joplin has ,at least since I have been of age, been a place that has allowed all to have a place in business and community. I think Mr Teeter should have highlighted that and stayed above the fray. I think all within our community would stand shoulder to shoulder against any injustice in Joplin. Mr Teeter should think about how to use his words to unite us not divide us.

    • I see the violence and the unjustified actions going on in our country and it is disheartening. I see government officials, community leaders, and business owners sharing their voice about the unfairness and hardships Black citizens are going through; but why are they the only ones truly being supported? In your letter, you briefly mentioned “…different races, ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations, ages, social classes, and physical and mental abilities or attributes” and then focused on “…dedicating more resources to ensure Joplin’s Black-owned businesses, entrepreneurs, and business” along with “…improving the economic prosperity and quality of life of our Black community”. While our Black community is extremely important and a part of who we are, there are others who are just as important and have struggles too. What we need is words and actions of unity if we truly want “Meaningful changes and contributions”. For this to happen, we all need to stand together and not only acknowledge that change needs to happen; but embrace the true reality, that ALL LIVES MATTER.

  10. Thank you Ken for speaking up, I know thus is all political. And if Mr tobias himself my be responaible for racsium but do not put all of us in that category.

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