Listen And Learn From Our BIPOC Neighbors
To the Editor:
Last week Newtown Allies for Change sponsored a community discussion of the documentary The Sound of the Police at Trinity Church. Sadly, some people considered the event an attack on the police and organized a pro-police rally across the street. It would have been much more fruitful for those outside with signs, or those engaging in online name-calling, to have simply joined the discussion!
They may have been surprised to see that a Newtown Police Sergeant was one of the participants. They may have learned something. They may have added important insight to the discussion. Instead of engaging in conversation and using critical thinking skills to better understand an American experience different from their own, they chose to assume the worst. It is especially disappointing behavior coming from a candidate running for First Selectman of Newtown.
NAFC has been called “extremist,” “radical,” “hateful,” and “vile” on social media and here in The Letter Hive. Is that really what people think?
I certainly don’t recognize my NAFC friends in those words. The use of that language exposes ignorance of NAFC’s mission which is to “center Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in Newtown.”
What does it mean to “center” BIPOC? According to one racial equity glossary it means, “Considering the Black experience as unique and foundational to shaping America’s economic and social policies. Centering Blackness demands that we create and design policies and practices that intentionally lift up and protect Black people.”
I have learned and grown exponentially since starting my education as an ally. I am in awe of the hard work, dedication, passion, and collaborative spirit with which this group of our Newtown neighbors works. However nothing has touched me more deeply than witnessing the love that motivates and propels everything that NAFC does.
Even when its members are exhausted. Even when the words publicly used against them are ugly. These Newtowners stay focused on the work and forge ahead. Not to be rabble-rousers or trouble makers, but because they love their children.
They understand — and I do, too — that for BIPOC families to thrive in a predominantly white town, it’s imperative that educational opportunities about race be offered to the public. Those of us who feel welcome walking into all Newtown businesses and spaces should want the same for every one of our neighbors. Listening to and learning from our BIPOC neighbors will enrich our lives and open our hearts to a deeper love and compassion for one another. It will make our community healthier and stronger.
If NAFC were an extremist hate group, the US Department of Justice would not have reached out to collaborate with us on “United Against Hate,” a town discussion scheduled for October 25th. I am grateful to the Newtown Police Department and NAFC for working together and engaging in what are often difficult conversations. May that relationship lead to greater community growth and understanding!
Although a proud member, I do not speak for NAFC.