Residents of Acton,
As you are aware, on Thursday, December 17th 2020 members of our community who are public officials Kyra Wilson Cook, Evelyn Abayaah-Issah, were verbally assaulted with overtly racist rhetoric. This occurred again on January 7, 2021. We are saddened by the audacity of these behaviors, which are rooted in supremacy and hate. We are however not surprised with their frequency of recurrence.
Ms. Wilson Cook and Ms. Abayaah-Issah are the first black women who have been elected to the school committee and are members of our multifaceted, diverse and dynamic town of Acton. They lead the charge in support of our children and core facets of public education. These acts were humiliating. The initial response to the first act too, was a pervasive act of silence, erasure and isolating.
Ms. Wilson Cook and Ms. Abayaah-Issah have been harassed verbally and online and while the Board of Selectmen called an emergency meeting the following day, Ms. Wilson Cook and Ms. Abayaah-Issah were not consulted in advance. In what could have been a pivotal moment of healing via acts of inclusion—further exclusion occurred. When one is injured, what is needed is aid. When one is assaulted, what is needed is support, cover, and care.
Now, with this most recent and overt acts of bias and racism occurring on January 7, 2021-- we are seeing the roll-out of cumulative traumatic impacts to individuals and whole segments of our communities. These acts are vile and violent. They impact in real time those who serve and work for the greater good, and the communities of color they represent, our children and our families they work on behalf of. These events affect our children and our feelings of safety and belonging. These events have shifted the narrative from “racism doesn’t live here” to “it lives and breathes”.
We, as members of the Acton Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Commission (DEIC), are motivated to engendering change in our community and do so via the charge of assessing diversity, equity, and inclusion in Acton, and suggesting ways to improve any problems found.
DEIC will continue our work of inclusion and centering of those affected directly by exclusion, bias and racism. We recognize that these most recent acts are neither solitary nor isolated and urge action, priority and empathy embedded in a tangible response.
Yours in Service,
Acton Diversity Equity and Inclusion Commission
Acton Diversity Equity and Inclusion Commission Webpage