Letter: Vote Yes for a Healthy Future

To the Editor:

There is a machine vote this coming Tuesday, May 4 to approve the school budget increase, and adopt the Easton Resolution on Racism and Public Health. I will be voting YES to both.

The school budget includes increased social, emotional, and mental health support. How can our children possibly be prepared for critical thinking if they’re reeling from a year of devastation and division, from being stuck in their houses and only seeing friends on Zoom? Can a kid really concentrate on academics after they’ve seen family members get sick and die alone, or see their parents stressed and possibly unemployed? The reality is that some kids may not want to talk to their parents about all of this. They may need someone who is trained to identify and help children in crisis. What’s more important: being able to identify North America on a map, or have the emotional strength and confidence to face adversity? In Easton, we can have both. Vote YES for the budget. 

Regarding the Easton Resolution on Racism and Public Health: I attended the Town Meeting this past Monday, April 26. There, I asked, and continue to ask, where in the Resolution does it state that Easton is a racist town? It doesn’t.

Rather, it states that racism is a “complex and pervasive problem that must be acknowledged and addressed by ALL communities (emphasis mine).” A YES vote in no way brands Easton as a racist town; it raises awareness that “the collective prosperity and wellbeing of Easton depends on equitable access to opportunity for every resident, regardless of the color of their skin.” 

As for those who believe “there is no racism in Easton:” that is a narrow-minded opinion from people who live in bubbles built of willful ignorance. In many letters to the Courier and at Town Meetings, our neighbors of color have shared stories of the bigotry and racism they’ve faced right here. Let me recap a few:

–When my friend Elle Morris and her family of color moved to town, they introduced themselves and their Black children to the police, because they were concerned about their safety. How many white families are even aware that this happens? Even still, they got a visit from law enforcement wanting to know where their 10-year-old son is, because one of their neighbors saw “a boy of color playing in the street and was concerned.”

–At Monday’s Town Meeting, one of our Black neighbors spoke about being stopped by the police in town. Twice. No infraction. Have any of our white drivers been stopped for no apparent reason? 

–Swastikas were recently drawn on our elementary school playground. Can anyone deny that swastikas symbolize hatred for and death to anyone who is different? 

If you are a person who denies the seriousness of these issues, and still believes there is no racism in Easton, well, that, in itself, is a racist belief, and a conscious decision to deny that systemic racism exists here, and everywhere. 

What is systemic racism? I found this excellent article from The Today Show (02/04/2021). I urge everyone to read it, and I would be happy to discuss it. The article defines systemic racism in many clear, undisputable ways, with many heartbreaking examples. “The racial inequities that we see today…are not the result of individual shortcomings or “personality flaws,” but are instead the result of centuries of disenfranchising people of color.”

https://www.today.com/tmrw/what-systemic-racism-t207878

Now, each of us has an opportunity to, as the Resolution states, “amplify issues of racism and engage with communities of color wherever they live.” That’s a YES vote for the Easton Resolution on Racism and Public Health. Or, some may choose to stay in their bubble of entitlement, believing that even with swastikas on our elementary school playground, there is no racism in Easton. In addition, vote YES for the school budget, with its expanded diversity and inclusion education, or your kids will believe it, too. 

Debbi Greene Barer

19-year Easton resident

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