If a neighbor is bleeding or hurting, what do we do?
An Open Letter to our Community to Take Action Against Hate
In a matter of days, we are once again confronted with a series of hateful acts. Our Chinese- American neighbors were verbally attacked during Acton’s annual town meeting on June 21; Rabbi Shlomo Noginski of Brighton was stabbed but miraculously survived, and 2 black residents in Winthrop were murdered because of the color of their skin. The harm of each incident cannot be understated and the ripple effect of each harmful act keeps spreading among entire communities.
Acton-Boxborough United Way condemns all forms of hate and racial and ethnic injustice. We recognize that we are late in issuing this statement. We hear and see the pain and hurt among our residents of Chinese descent, our Black residents, and Jewish residents. After months of careful reflection and learning, our leadership adopted a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement and a separate Racial Justice Statement. We hope you will join in our call for action.
Every resident has the right to feel safe in our community. Residents can only thrive if each of us feels like we belong. Too many of us don’t feel safe any longer. It is our collective responsibility to make residents feel safe in town meetings or other committees, in interactions in school, on the sports fields, on our streets, as we shop, on social media, and as we socialize.
Neighbors caring for neighbors implies that we care about each other’s safety. If a neighbor is bleeding, we would drive them to the hospital. Too many neighbors are bleeding from “1000 cuts.” What do we do? We can’t remain silent. We can’t continue to be reactive.
We as a community need to come together and decide who we want to be. It is time to lift up each other’s humanity and to proactively fight against the divisive “us vs. them” culture and all forms of racisms. We all have different spheres of influence and can use them to condemn hateful actions. At a grassroots level, we can join forces to take proactive steps.
We encourage you to take action, big or small. As a caring neighbor, you can make a difference.
Reach out to a neighbor after an incident happens, listen deeply and with empathy, show that you care, learn their name, listen to their story…
Watch the beautiful 15 minute testimonies on the “Experiences of Acton Chinese Residents”, recently created by ACACS and the Acton Historic Society: https://youtu.be/5TcozFeBXk0. Step in your Chinese neighbors' shoes and immerse yourself in their stories till the end.
Read Dawn Wang’s statement in the Beacon.
Advocate for Change. Each of us has a voice and can vote. Our town institutions need to hear from all of us, if we want to change how our institutions operate - whether it is town meeting, town staff, police, school, or committees.
There are 2 bills in the state legislature (S365 and H584) that focus on anti-racism and equity in education by introducing ethnic studies of all racial minorities in the K-12 curriculum. Follow CARE AAPI and ask your legislators to support the bills https://tinyurl.com/SupportCARE. We are grateful to Senator Jamie Eldridge, Rep Tami Gouveia, and Rep Danillo Sena for their support.
Visit our website and the link to AB Racial Justice Collaborative, to see how you can learn, grow and get involved: https://www.abuw.org/our-purpose/equity-racial-justice.
Sign up for bystander training or find out more about being a facilitator for community building circles to proactively bring neighbors together. Learn more on our website.
Your voice matters. Join us to help everyone belong and thrive in our beloved Acton and Boxborough community.
Griet Dehandschutter, Executive Director
Jill O'Brien, Board President