We are writing in response to the hateful anti-Semitic and misogynistic graffiti that defaced the Westhampton High School last Friday. We are glad that the Suffolk County Police is treating this as a Hate Crime, and is investigating it as such. But we are greatly distressed that local residents would even commit such an atrocious act. To us, this is a symptom not only of a disturbed mind, but of a disturbed society, as well.
No one is born hating. Hate must be taught, and it must be learned. In a healthy society, all persons are treated with respect, dignity and equality. When this social contract begins to break down, the result is a rise in hate, anger and violence.
This country has seen a steady rise in hate crimes over the past 5 years, with the sharpest rise in 2016, as reported by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The number of reported hate crimes continued to rise in 2017. This must stop. But only we can stop it. Each and every one of us must take responsibility. We must teach our children to love and respect each other. We must be mindful that our words, as well as actions, have consequences. We must be role models through our own behavior. We must understand that we all sink or swim together, and that the best way to protect any group’s rights is to protect every group’s rights.
This is not about politics. This is about human rights. Discrimination and bigotry have no place in a civilized democratic society. We can and must do better.
The mission of the Town of Southampton Anti-Bias Task Force(ABTF) is to promote and encourage fair treatment, dignity and respect for all people, especially within the Town of Southampton. In striving to fulfill this mission, we actively work to prevent and combat prejudice, racism and discrimination, and to diffuse their destructive effects. If you have a grievance to report or would like our support for any educational programs to combat bias, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org”
Andrea Klausner, on behalf of the Southampton Town Anti-Bias Task Force
James Banks Committee Chairperson
To Whom It May Concern:
This is meant to serve as an addendum to the letter written so eloquently by our colleague Andrea Klausner. The membership of the Southampton Town Anti-Bias Task Force has been urged to speak up during times of bias, implicit bias and circumstances of injustice when they occur in Southampton. Additionally, we have pledged to plan proactive activities to ameliorate bias in the town and villages.
To that end, it should be added that it has been said that any man who is more right than his neighbor constitutes a majority of one. I recently heard it said that the majority should not decide what our morals are our conscience should. We must strive to be in relationships of equals. That equality is why when I’m thanked for my service for having served in the United States Marines, I make it my business to thank the waiters and waitresses and other service deliverers for their service.
The recent bias incident in Westhampton Beach calls out to people from all walks of life to become allies in the fight against bias. Join us as we work to honor all people as equals by responding to any incidents where bias, anti-Semitism, racism or any other “ism” shows its ugly head. If we are living entities, like trees, it was said that no tree has branches that fight among themselves. It all works together. I am told that the giant Redwood trees intermingle their roots to stand together so as to fight against the wind.
Lastly, keep your ears to the ground to hear the coming programs and trainings where we can all get in touch with both our biases and implicit biases and become much needed allies.
James Banks, Committee Chairperson, on behalf of the Southampton Town Anti-Bias Task Force
Professor Suffolk County Community College College-Wide Coordinator of Multicultural Affairs
Consultant to The Center for Social Justice and Human Understanding, Featuring The Holocaust Exhibit
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