Letter: Barrington has addressed inequity, discrimination

Posted 1/7/21

To the editor:

We all benefit from open dialogue and continued learning about racial disparities and all forms of discrimination, because we all have a role to play in overcoming their legacies. …

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Letter: Barrington has addressed inequity, discrimination

Posted

To the editor:

We all benefit from open dialogue and continued learning about racial disparities and all forms of discrimination, because we all have a role to play in overcoming their legacies. In this spirit, I write to discuss the recent editorial, “Actions Speak Louder.”

The editorial reminds readers of your call for individuals who hold power to take action. It then expresses that the Town of Barrington has been “head cheerleader,” alluding through omission that we haven’t taken action. As a member of our town council, I’ve taken action, and our council as a whole has also done so.

First, a comment on the value of cheerleading. There are people who are inspired by statements, rallies and the like. They proudly look at our flagpole overtly stating “we may not have expressed it well in the past, but this is your town, too.” Many of these folks have reached out to me to share that the messages are meaningfully received.

The Barrington Times thoroughly covers what it collectively refers to as “feel good” gestures. I’m grateful for that coverage, because talking about these issues is important. This recent editorial, however, presents these gestures as if they encompass the extent of what the town has done.

In this instance, however, it is the Barrington Times itself that has failed to take action, by choosing not to adequately cover the various initiatives that the town has undertaken. This past year alone, Barrington has addressed inequity and discrimination in various forms and with various approaches.

In February, the council adopted an anti-discrimination policy, obliging elected and appointed officials. In June, we began working with BPD to examine and reform community policing and use of force policies. In October, we passed a fair housing ordinance. In November, we hired a diversity consultant. Over the past two years, membership on the town’s boards and commissions has become more diverse. And over the past 10 years, the inventory of affordable housing in town has more than doubled.

None of these actions alone, nor all of them combined, are enough. But each one of them amount to more than “cheerleading.” Yet, it is the coverage of our cheerleading that ends up speaking the loudest.

I agree with the editorial’s statement that improvements must be initiated by those who hold the power and the ability to effect change. As an elected official, I am committed to using my power to initiate changes and seeing them through. As the primary distributor of local news, it remains the responsibility of the people in power at East Bay Media to choose to amplify the actions that are being taken, in addition to covering the gestures that complement or contradict them.

We all have a role to play in overcoming inequity. We all have the opportunity to take steps toward creating an inclusive and equitable community. We’ll know we’ve succeeded when inclusivity is recognized as a hallmark of our community.

Working together, we can include everybody in building an even better Barrington.

Jacob Brier

Barrington

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.