George Floyd and Civil unrest

To the NextLevel Health Family,

Like most of you, I am struggling to make sense of yet another horrible death of a black person in our land of the free. The growing civil unrest following the death of George Floyd has added another layer of complexity to this tragedy. As a parent of 2 vibrant, thinking, questioning teenage African-American children, I cannot help but wonder about the world they will re-enter post-COVID, post-George Floyd, post-Ahmaud Arbery, and post-Breonna Taylor. What do I say to them as they grow, and what I can do to protect them?

South Shore, the neighborhood where my family resides, is the number one hot spot for COVID-19 in Chicago. Over the weekend, looting occurred on the 71st Street business strip with stores being pillaged. A grocery store, Local Market, opened in December 2019 thereby ending a six-year period when this community was considered a food desert. After Sunday’s destruction the owners of the grocery store are contemplating their future in our neighborhood. 200+ jobs are now at risk. The nearby Walgreens is also closed. The task of getting basic food and medicine has gotten much more difficult. The COVID-19 crisis compounds the everyday crises that exists in this South side Chicago community and other communities like it throughout Cook County.

In the midst of a pandemic, pain, and unrest, we must continue the work of caring for our own families and doing what we can to improve the lives of those who are most vulnerable.

I know that each of us will respond in different ways to the injustices and the unrest. Many of you may be hurting and angry, and our current isolation from each other only makes this harder to bear. We will have to exhibit a little more kindness and understanding to the people around us who are also feeling the same way. These facts will be true of NextLevel Health Members also. We will have to exhibit a little more kindness and understanding about the current circumstances as we interact with our Members. Our call may be the bright spot in our Members’ day.

I hope that each of us can reflect on what we can do to improve the lives of our communities and then act in ways that are true to ourselves and to all that we value at NextLevel Health. I plan to honor the life of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many others by focusing even more on the core mission of the work we have been doing over the last 4 years –which is deeply rooted in the belief that we have the power to improve the human condition, in the belief that our work grounded in values and transformed into action is indeed the only way to change our world.

Stay grounded in the values that have sustained us.

Be in Peace,


Cheryl Rucker-Whitaker MD, MPH
Founder and CEO
NextLevel Health Partners, Inc.