A couple of weeks ago, the Cubs addressed a controversy that arose when a series of emails sent and received by Joe Ricketts were posted online. At the time, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts noted that the team would arrange to meet with Muslim-Americans in the Chicago area, since some of the emails contained content that can only be described as bigoted toward Muslims.
Monday morning, the Cubs and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) released a joint statement that is the beginning of what the team hopes will improve relations between the Cubs and the Muslim community in Chicago.
Here’s the statement in its entirety.
Today the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) released the following joint statement with the Chicago Cubs announcing genuine, meaningful and visible steps toward combating Islamophobia, bigotry and racism.
This follows a productive meeting held recently at the CAIR-Chicago office between the leaders of several Muslim groups (CAIR-Chicago, the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago – CIOGC and the IL Muslim Civic Coalition) and Chicago Cubs Executive Chairman Tom Ricketts. The Cubs offered to meet with the groups after published offensive emails from Joe Ricketts spurred these groups to publicly condemn the language and content.
The meeting began with a discussion on the history of Muslims in America and in Chicago. Following the discussion, several Muslims in attendance shared stories about their personal history and experience as longtime Cubs fans and how the emails from Joe Ricketts raised doubt about the family and organization’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Tom Ricketts offered a heartfelt apology on behalf of the organization and expressed his desire to mend relationships in the Chicago Muslim community and lend his support in the fight against Islamophobia. Both parties agreed to convert the unfortunate circumstances that brought the groups together into a positive opportunity to work together against hate and bigotry.
The group concluded the meeting with a discussion on a proposed plan of action that included: the participation of notable Muslims in Cubs and Wrigley Field traditions, anti-hate PSAs featuring Cubs personnel helping to raise public awareness against Islamophobia, as well as Cubs support for three community initiatives: anti-bullying efforts, diversity and inclusion training and scholarships. The details of these and other initiatives, as well as the implementation timeline, will be discussed in subsequent meetings in the coming weeks.
“We are encouraged the Cubs, led by Tom Ricketts, responded swiftly and genuinely in partnering with us to turn the situation around. As a result, the Cubs are taking a significant step forward and will use the power of their brand and voice to fight Islamophobia, racism and bigotry. We hope other franchises follow their lead. This active commitment to our shared values of Everybody In is not only great for the brand, but for all fans, for the affected communities and for our city as a whole,” stated CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab.
“We have a tremendous opportunity to further our commitment to diversity and inclusion by joining the Chicago Muslim community in its efforts to eradicate bigotry and Islamophobia,” said Cubs Executive Chairman Tom Ricketts. “My family and I want to thank Ahmed Rehab and Chicago Muslim leaders for the opportunity to meet and have a frank and constructive dialogue about building a better future.”
Undoubtedly, there will be more on this as time goes by. We’ll keep you posted.