Letter from A World of Difference
BY ADL PEER LEADERS
Dear Acton-Boxborough Community Members,
In light of the hurtful, insensitive, and racist attacks that occurred at the past two school committee meetings, we, A World of Difference peer leaders, stand with Evelyn Abaayah-Issah, Kyra Cook, and all Black members of our community. We acknowledge that these incidents are deeply unsettling for you—please know you are not alone. As a student-led organization committed to social justice in our community, our mission is to recognize and combat all forms of discrimination that exist here at AB. Rather than ignoring the emotions that the incidents evoke, we want to utilize them to educate our community about the reality of racism and to create lasting change within our school district.
For anyone who has not personally experienced racism, we encourage you to acknowledge what it may be like for other community members. Please note that everyone’s experience with racism is different, and these words by no means capture the entirety of the oppression that Black people in America face on a daily basis. Racism subjects many people to constant scrutiny because of a fundamental part of their identity. Moreover, society conditions Black individuals to see themselves as threatening or inferior and uses systemic oppression to reinforce this mindset. These incidents were an example of individuals leveraging this system of hate against Black people.
So, how do we, as a community, help? Let our actions speak louder than our words; lashing out at others, guilty glances at members of the targeted group, and pushing difficult emotions and conversations aside do not solve any problems. Instead, they make learning harder. The first step is to educate ourselves while being open to making mistakes: accept constructive criticism and apologize if you offend someone. While it can be challenging to confront bias in our own lives, we must understand how our family, friends, the media, and society have instilled beliefs in us from an early age. Many people get defensive at the thought of being called out for being biased because they assume they are being called a “bad person.” As author Ibram X. Kendi said, “A racist when charged with racism will say, ‘I’m not a racist,’ no matter what they said or did. An antiracist would be willing to confess and recognize what they said or did was, in fact, racist.” In order to be anti-racist, we must acknowledge our biases and consciously aim to correct them. With this in mind, we encourage you to take a step back and examine your own life: have there been times when you watched someone receive a backhanded “compliment” or have subconsciously judged someone based on a first glance? Implicit and explicit biases influence how we speak and act. By addressing the problem head-on, we actively strive to become more open-minded. Discuss with friends and family how biases influence your lives and hold each other accountable for improvement. Some conversation resources are listed at the bottom of this page on the Racial & Social Justice Resources Website.
This is not the end of the road. Too many people view advocacy as a one-time act, such as a single repost on social media or a sympathetic comment. While these actions can be helpful, they are not enough. Advocacy is so much more than temporarily relieving a heavy conscience. Becoming an ally means endurance, perseverance, and a willingness to make mistakes and be corrected for them.
We cannot become immune to the hate that has chronically plagued our society. We need to take action, be supportive, and better ourselves. To get started, we strongly recommend visiting the Racial & Social Justice Resource Site, which includes a variety of resources and steps you can take to become an ally. As activist James Baldwin stated, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” It’s time for all of us to face our biases and take a stand against racism.
A World of Difference Peer Leaders