To the Editor:
I was deeply disappointed to learn that at the June 4 Southbury BoS meeting, Selectmen Manville, Bertram and Harrison refused to allow a discussion of the joint letter from Superintendent Smith and the First Selectmen of Southbury and Middlebury to even be placed on the agenda.
The letter, announcing our collective concerns about racial injustice, was timely and appropriate for our school and town leaders to speak out in this troubling time, and the statement included many fine sentiments about fairness and equity.
However, the statement fails to acknowledge the endemic racism in this (and every) town. It also does not offer leadership in leading a public, town-wide conversation on this painful topic. Instead, we are told “There are resources that can help guide conversations about injustice, hate and intolerance on the website below. We encourage you to use the resources to have conversations with those around you, to trust one another and help promote compassion and understanding within our communities.”
In other words, it is each individual’s job to create conversations that affect our entire town, not the job of our leaders.
Indeed these conversations are difficult and potentially painful, and they require skillful facilitation. Which is why we so rarely have them.
Selectmen Rosen, Bette and Buschsbaum simply wanted to know how the statement was created and how it might more effectively reflect our town’s commitment to real change, and with the leadership willing to guide that change.
Instead, their motion to add the discussion to the night’s agenda was stonewalled. Clearly, even talking about racism and our town’s public stance on it is not worth the selectmen’s time or effort.
What are we afraid to talk about or hear from others?