A Cruel Distortion Of Reality
To the Editor:
Since our Rally 4 Change event in June, almost 2,000 people have signed our Pledge and Call for Action petition. The 1,226 members of Newtown Allies For Change pledge to call out racism and microaggressions at all times. Therefore, in response to recent letters by Ms Cathy Reiss, a Legislative Council member, we categorically disavow her opinions and believe her membership should be called into question. There is no place for racism on the Legislative Council.
Unlike Ms Reiss, we support the Black Lives Matter movement because we support causes and organizations that elevate antiracist policies and ideas. We applaud those who have written letters to your publication that clearly point out Ms Reiss’ mischaracterizations of BLM and dog-whistle tactics that heighten division in our community.
When people receive messages from society that their lives are less important than others, it is a cruel distortion of reality to scold them for not being inclusive enough. There is no invisible “only” in front of Black Lives Matter. The movement is about focus, not exclusion.
After speaking with Black and Latinx members of Newtown Allies For Change, we were saddened to hear that sentiments from Ms Reiss and other Newtown residents are frustratingly predictable. People of color in Newtown do not feel welcome. From their point of view, there is no intention to diversify or grow more inclusive as a town.
It’s both saddening and exhausting to expect the people of color living in Newtown to prove their existence, worth, and humanity on a regular basis. When people of color move to Newtown for the small town atmosphere or good school district, they should not become the victims of alienating discrimination. Newtown’s lack of diversity is upsetting enough, but its lack of empathy is heartbreaking.
In the words of the late John Lewis, “Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.”
Now is the time to act and do our part to counteract the words and actions of racist elected officials. Now is the time to support people of color and work tirelessly for racial justice and equity. Now is the time to elect leaders on a local, state, and federal level who will openly vow to take on this important social justice work with us.
The culturally and racially tone-deaf sentiments of Ms Reiss and those who agree with her have no place in Newtown, let alone America. It’s not nicer in Newtown until it’s nicer for families of color. Let’s do better, Newtown.
Newtown Allies For Change
Benjamin P. Rackley II
Thunder Ridge Road, Sandy Hook
David F. Weiss
Horseshoe Ridge Road, Sandy Hook August 5, 2020