The mission of Arm in Arm, in part, is to work in collaboration with the larger community to build understanding and respect among residents. As such, we are responding to the recent statements made in the Press and at the Select Board meeting regarding the adoption of a town diversity policy.
As to the claim that racism and bias are not current problems in our community, we strongly disagree. In a survey done in the fall, 47% of the 171 responding Bromfield students reported witnessing or experiencing racism or bias. Other community members have even had the “n” word used against them. We have seen rocks and bridges graffitied with hateful symbols. Racism exists in our town and needs the attention of all of us if we want to truly have a welcoming and inclusive community.
We also want to clarify two additional points. We do not envision this policy to be used punitively. Raising awareness and utilizing a restorative justice approach are better suited to addressing harms. The police should be involved if a violent act rises to the level of a crime. Because of his extensive knowledge, however, we believe consulting Chief Denmark with respect to establishing a reporting mechanism might prove helpful.
We fully support the Select Board members’ work toward a more inclusive and welcoming environment by taking actionable steps with employees, appointees, and volunteers and setting a tone for all those who live and come to Harvard. The Select Board members are leaders of our community and their commitment will go a long way in helping increase the safety and security provided to town residents and others. We have offered to collaborate with them in this initiative.
One of our upcoming plans is to circulate an anonymous survey to capture residents’ experiences. With that knowledge, the community will be able to target improvement efforts. Please consider lending your voice to the conversation by filling out the survey in the upcoming months.
Sharon Cronin and Linda Dwight, members
Arm in Arm steering committee