As a citizen of Crozet, I presented a request to the Crozet Community Association (CCA) at their January meeting, signed by about twenty folks from a concurrent meeting I had just come from. If you agree with it, I encourage you to contact them to express yourself.
I asked the CCA to make a statement that Crozet is an inclusive community, as many municipalities have done in these alarming times when anti-immigrant sentiment is surging and when asserting that black lives also have value has provoked controversy. The draft I proposed read:
Crozet is an inclusive community that welcomes, accepts and celebrates all people.
A Statement of Commitment
Crozet commits to:
- Champion equality of worth among people, recognizing that equity and diversity exemplify our ideals and values as a community.
- Learn, acknowledge and honor the unique histories and lived experiences of all peoples in our community.
- Stand against any ideology of racial exclusion, superiority, segregation, or domination that perpetuates patterns of discrimination or exploitation.
I explained to those present what led me to request to be on the agenda for this purpose. Chanda McGuffin, an African American from Waynesboro, told me that African Americans do not heavily attend her bridge-building workshops, and they have said the reason is that they don’t think dialogue will make a difference to the lack of awareness of and perpetuation of the discrimination they face. When the KKK posted flyers downtown and the Waynesboro City Council refused to issue a condemnation, these neighbors told her: “See?”
When I heard the story, I wanted to speak up and stand with the many people of color who are feeling targeted in this national climate. I wondered if Crozet would be willing to speak collectively.
To be a silent bystander when families are being torn apart by deportations, people of color continue to face deadly violence, and hate crimes are on the rise nationwide, is to be complicit. After the events of August 12 so nearby, we should join other communities in making clear our values and commitments.
Most of the faces in the room nodded in agreement when I made my request, though a few people felt that the statement was redundant and unnecessary, given all Crozet has already done to show that it is inclusive—for example promoting fair and affordable housing practices.
To address another reaction, of course the proposal is not more important than actually being inclusive. Declarations mean nothing if contradicted by actions. But remaining silent can be construed as an action. “A time comes when silence is betrayal,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said in 1967. The times call us to stand with our fellow Americans against unjust and deadly supremacist ideologies, which are attempting to reenter the mainstream. If we do not challenge them, our silence speaks.
If you live in Crozet and would like to see the statement above published on the Crozet Community Association’s home page, please contact the CCA. At their meeting on March 8 at 7:30 p.m. at the Field School they will be revising language to reflect that this is a reaffirmation of values, not a change in values, deciding whether to adopt it, and, if so, deciding in what forum to publish it.
You can reach the CCA’s governing body through CrozetCommunity@gmail.com.
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