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Solve The Problems Harming Our Children



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To the Editor:

It was exactly one year and 10 days ago from this writing that The Newtown Bee published my Letter to the Editor entitled: “Demonstrate Allyship with Words and Action.” In that letter I compared the love and concern that Newtowners were showing to an injured hawk and our apparent lack of concern for our neighbors of color who experience racism right under our noses.

A couple weeks before I wrote that letter, my husband and I were blessed with an opportunity to “host” local sensation Bobbi the bear and two cubs in our yard for most of one day. They climbed up and down trees, took naps, and meandered around our yard as if … well … as if it were theirs.

It was as though we were watching the Nature Channel from our deck and through our back windows. It was absolutely thrilling! Our small, personal connection led to heartbreak when I heard that “our bear” had been shot and killed last week.

But as I read through the hundreds of posts and comments on Facebook, a familiar feeling began to wash over me. While it is a beautiful thing to watch Newtown rally around two orphaned cubs and to demonstrate our capacity for love, it pains me that we don’t rally around our neighbors of color with the same sense of concern and urgency.

When I listen to their stories of experiencing racism in this town — our beloved Newtown — it hurts me to my core. Whenever people speak up about racism in Newtown an influx of denials are sure to come: Letters to The Bee and comments online denying that racism is a problem in Newtown.

If it hasn’t happened to them, it’s not real. I’ve heard people at town meetings and forums say that learning about racism will “divide” us. I’m not sure why they think that talking about racism is more divisive than experiencing racism; again, maybe it’s because they aren’t the ones experiencing it personally.

BIPOC parents shouldn’t have to question the wisdom of moving to Newtown. They shouldn’t feel the need to remove their children from our public schools (which they are paying for through their taxes). They shouldn’t have to work so hard to make the schools a safe and nurturing environment for their families. And their children shouldn’t have to live with wondering when the next racial slur will be slung at them.

So a year and ten days later, I repeat: We have a race problem. I have faith that we are capable of caring about Bobbi’s orphaned cubs while also working to solve the problems that are harming children in Newtown. I guess we just have to decide if these families are worth the effort. I, for one, believe they are.

Do you?


Wendy Leon-Gambetta


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