Pervasive racism

Published: 6/28/2020 6:44:38 PM

Unfortunately I agree with Mr. Rathschmidt [“Racism,” June 21] regarding racism in our Hilltown area. Racism is as pervasive here as anywhere I’ve lived; until 2017 I lived in the South.

Shortly after moving here, when local towns were wrestling with “Safe Community” status, a My Turn piece by the chair of the Council for FRCOG was posted in The Recorder (Nov. 20, 2017). In it, Mr. O’Rourke used surprisingly racist comments to make his point, including “liberal politicians want to pander to illegals to get their votes,” “California, the state most ravaged by the inflow of illegal aliens,” and “[c]riminal aliens are a growing threat to public safety and national security.”

Having moved from Kentucky, where undocumented agricultural workers are critical to the economy of the state and to many small towns and valued employees of most thoroughbred farms, I was well aware that nothing could be further from the truth.

Less than a year later, I had the misfortune of being on the Planning Board when the cannabis zoning bylaws were being designed with the help of FRCOG’s planning department. The Reefer Madness inspired rhetoric still leaves me shaken.

Concerns from residents and members of other relevant boards included: “undesirables” coming to town, “undesirables hiding in the woods”, and “criminals from Springfield with guns hiding up in trees” and “breaking into greenhouses.” The inclusion of additional protection for preschoolers made no sense at all unless one believed that customers fit 1930s stereotypes of cannabis users as sexually depraved non-whites.

“Loss of property value” is a dog whistle at least as old as red-lining and school desegregation.

Words we hear from those in positions of governance matter. When we hear them make or support racist statements, we can be sure those beliefs underpin the laws they propose.

Clarissa Spawn


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