Letter: Opportunities to confront racism in Little Compton

Posted 7/29/20

To the editor,

Recent discussions about current and past events that may root from racism in Little Compton are appearing on social media, Channel 12 Fox News, and at many town gatherings. This …

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Letter: Opportunities to confront racism in Little Compton

Posted

To the editor,

Recent discussions about current and past events that may root from racism in Little Compton are appearing on social media, Channel 12 Fox News, and at many town gatherings. This requires each of us to actively engage in the difficult dialogue on racism, as it exists in this quaint, non-diverse New England town.

These issues have been discussed within town government, at Town Council, and at public and executive School Committee meetings. This needed dialogue has, and will continue. While difficult dialogues like this may create fear, anger, and distrust, they are vital toward meaningful, equitable social change.

Enhancements to our school curriculum aimed at tackling issues of racism began last fall, thanks to the care, concern, and diligence of our school administration and faculty. The challenges of distance-learning complicated efforts, but the school system remains dedicated to implementing and monitoring necessary changes in our school. Of note is the enhancement of the International Baccalaureate program currently underway. All are welcome and encouraged to participate in virtual School Committee Meetings to learn more about these meaningful efforts and, to participate in the dialogue.

In early July, the Town of Little Compton enacted a resolution condemning racism and urging us to actively engage in efforts to recognize and stop racism. Along with strongly condemning all individual and systemic racism, it urges the entire town to join in this work. It has been shared throughout the state with all municipalities, state legislators, and Governor Raimondo. This must-read is available on the town website. (http://www.littlecomptonri.org/)

Several grassroots initiatives have sprung up in town to begin the process of uncovering one’s individual biases and to discuss the broader perspectives of oppression, bigotry, and hatred. They provide opportunities for conversation, reading lists, and book exchanges. Local churches have started relevant reading groups; they can and should be places of conscientious dialogue. The Little Compton Historical Society offers educational programs, including “Slavery & Freedom in Little Compton,” on August 5 at 7 p.m. via zoom. Their website is easily accessed for additional information.

These issues may be uncomfortable and disquieting. They should be. Change is not easy.

Teressa Raiford, a Wall of Moms organizer, states, “We don’t need silent victims, we need loud witnesses.” (New York Times, 7.26.2020). If you are at all concerned with social change, I urge you to find your courage and break your silence. Find or start a place for dialogue, however difficult, and discover on which side of history you wish to land.

Rita A. Kenahan, RN, EdD

Member, Little Compton School Committee

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