Longmeadow Coalition for Racial Justice
Longmeadow Coalition for Racial Justice Task Force invites community feedback on experiences with racism in town
The Longmeadow Select Board’s Coalition for Racial Justice task force was formed to identify areas of systemic racism in the town, with the goal of evolving Longmeadow’s culture to be more inclusive, welcoming and equitable for people of color. The Coalition is comprised of 10 citizens, many of whom have personal experience in this space, and others who have passion and experience as advocates for change.
To help us identify areas of focus, WE NEED TO HEAR YOUR VOICE! If you have experienced or witnessed racism in Longmeadow and would like to share the story, please consider joining our ‘Open Listening Session’ on December 10th from 7:00 to 8:30 via Zoom. Your feedback, combined with other fact-finding we are undertaking, will directly shape the recommendations we submit to the Town’s Select Board in March. You do not have to be a resident of Longmeadow to be heard.
To attend the Zoom session, please send your email address to firstname.lastname@example.org by December 9th. Alternatively, if you cannot attend, do not have the opportunity to speak or prefer to send us your comments in writing, you may submit them by email to the same email address by December 11th.
- Zach Verriden, Chair
- Rev. Charlotte LaForest, Vice-Chair
- Bisrat Abebe
- Kathleen Allen
- Mara DeMaio
- Neena Grover
- Ryan McCollum
- Lauren Rollins
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Longmeadow Coalition for Racial Justice
On July 6, 2020 The Longmeadow Select Board adopted a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis. The full text of the resolution is below.
A key component of this resolution is the creation of a community task force to address racial injustices. Upon the adoption of the resolution the Select Board directed the Town Manager to assemble a task force. The task force will be made up of 9 Longmeadow residents with demonstrated interest, experience, or expertise in the issues under review, especially Black, Indigenous, People of Color, or people from other historically marginalized communities.
The task force will discuss, research, gather data, and report to the Select Board on steps the Town can take to reshape the discourse and actively engage all citizens in the dedicated work necessary to address the scourge of systematic racism, recommend alliances with organizations that are confronting racism and how those alliances can benefit the community, identify methods or areas to promote racially equitable hiring and promotion of all employees, including Town employees, and advocate for and draft relevant policies that recognize and seek to mitigate the adverse impacts of racism.
Interested residents can submit a letter or email to the Town Manager by September 14, 2020. Email the Town Manager at email@example.com or mail a letter of interest to Town Manager, 20 Williams Street, Longmeadow, MA 01106. The group is anticipated to convene virtually in September with the goal of issuing a report to the Select Board by March 31, 2021.
On July 20, 2020 the Longmeadow Select Board adopted a Resolution Declaring Racism a Public Health Crisis, the text of the Resolution is below:
WHEREAS, racism is deeply embedded in America’s history, culture, society, and legal and political systems; and
WHEREAS, racism acts on systemic, institutional, and interpersonal levels, all of which operate throughout time and across generations; and
WHEREAS, racism—not race—causes disproportionately high levels of homelessness, poverty, incarceration, and negative health outcomes; and
WHEREAS, data shows that people of color — particularly Black, Latino, and Native American people — have less access to educational attainment, healthy nutrition, gainful employment, a clean environment, and healthcare, all of which are social determinants of health; and
WHEREAS, negative social determinants of health cause people of color to suffer greater rates of diabetes, asthma, heart disease, high blood pressure, mental health afflictions, and other diseases which significantly reduce their life expectancy; and
WHEREAS, research shows that the killings of unarmed Black people create fear and distrust of police across the country that heighten levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder in Black communities, in turn worsening physical health; and
WHEREAS, in the aftermath of the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the Black Lives Matter movement fought to make the entire nation understand the need for sustainable policy and cultural changes to bring about racial justice; and
WHEREAS, the American Academy of Pediatrics has concluded that prolonged exposure to stress hormones, such as cortisol, resulting from racism predisposes individuals to chronic disease; and
WHEREAS, the American Medical Association has concluded that racism in its systemic, structural, institutional, and interpersonal forms is an urgent threat to public health, the advancement of health equity, and a barrier to excellence in the delivery of medical care; and
WHEREAS, the American Public Health Association recommends (1) eliminating policies and practices that facilitate disproportionate violence against specific populations, (2) instituting robust law enforcement accountability measures, (3) increasing investment in promoting racial and economic equity to address social determinants of health, (4) implementing community-based alternatives to addressing harms and preventing trauma, and (5) working with public health officials to comprehensively document law enforcement contact, violence, and injuries; and
WHEREAS, research concludes that people of color face worse public health outcomes than white Americans, including white Americans with the same income in the same community;
WHEREAS, the Longmeadow Select Board recognizes that racism is a public health crisis that affects all members of our society both on a local level and nationwide and deserves action from all levels of government and civil society; and
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Longmeadow Select Board does hereby declare racism a public health crisis; and
WHEREAS, the Longmeadow Select Board supports the establishment of a working group to address these issues and to: (1) reshape the discourse and actively engage all citizens in the dedicated work necessary to address the scourge of systematic racism; (2) continue to work to build alliances with organizations that are confronting racism and encourage partners to recognize racism as a public health crisis; (3) continue to promote racially equitable hiring and promotion of all employees, including Town employees; and (4) advocate and draft relevant policies that recognize and seek to mitigate the adverse impacts of racism.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Longmeadow Select Board recommits itself to serving residents by continuing to prioritize law enforcement reform, increasing access to opportunity, and listening to unheard voices in the community; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that through combating systemic racism, the Town of Longmeadow can be a place in which everyone can enjoy a more equitable share of dignity and prosperity.