Happy 2023 Fellow Allies!
It’s a fresh new year and the perfect occasion for reflection and resolutions.
As I reflect upon my own participation in NAFC this past year, I am grateful for all that I have learned and for new friendships that continue to grow. I am grateful for an opportunity to help bring about change for BIPOC children, adults, and families in Newtown. And I am very grateful for the progress that NAFC made in 2022.
But the gratitude I feel doesn’t nullify my frustration. The slow pace at which progress crawls along can be maddening.
So. Darn. Slow.
I get it: “Real change takes time”. But that attitude just doesn’t fly when there are children in Newtown schools experiencing racism on a regular basis. Surely that demands a greater sense of urgency from this community than what we saw last year.
While recognizing that there are forces at work against creating equity, the New Year has restored my sense of hope that good will prevail.
NAFC is led by a diverse, creative, tenacious group of Newtown residents. They, along with a small core of active NAFC members, have remained focused on doing the work of promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and centering BIPOC in Newtown. It’s impossible not to feel hopeful by the energy of these folks.
Reflection is important, but action is where it’s at.
NAFC members got together over the holidays to do some brainstorming. Four critical areas of work have been identified for 2023:
- Sustain NAFC
- Safety of BIPOC in Newtown
- Education (for allies and the community)
- Representation of BIPOC and BIPOC interests
Theoretically, NAFC has the manpower to achieve important goals within each of these four areas. The so-called “80-20 rule” typically observed in volunteer organizations dictates that NAFC, with a membership of 1,300, should have 260 active volunteers doing the heavy lifting, with the other 80% either chipping in very occasionally or not at all.
My own rudimentary count of allies who are regularly involved in NAFC activities comes in at fewer than 20. To say we’re missing the mark in group participation is a gross understatement.
So how about making a resolution to be a better, more active ally in 2023?
I’ll go first.
I resolve to continue doing the work to make Newtown a place where:
- calls to be on the lookout for “a Black man driving a black Mercedes” don’t occur (yes, this happened—and yes, some Black men own Mercedes).
- the promotion of DEI, whether in a scarecrow contest or at Board of Education meetings, isn’t equated with bullying, anti-patriotism, or grooming.
- our BIPOC neighbors, family, and friends are safe in all the spaces in which white residents are safe.
- we are able to communicate clearly with one another by possessing a firm grasp on anti-racist terms such as white privilege, microaggressions, white fragility, implicit bias, and structural racism.
- white residents learn to really listen to people of color in our community and accept that they know exceedingly more about racism than we do.
If this is the Newtown you want to live in, then please join me in working to make it happen. I invite you to give of your time and talents to nurture an environment in our community that is safer and more equitable for our neighbors of color. Comment here or reach out to any active NAFC member to find out how you can help.
Make a resolution to be a more active ally in 2023.
Help us create a better, safer Newtown for all.