Amherst joins national network on racial equity

  • Amherst Town Hall GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 15, 2020

AMHERST — Amherst is joining a national network of cities and towns that promotes racial equity in government and communities.

Town Manager Paul Bockelman informed the Town Council in a memo that Amherst recently became a member of the Government Alliance on Race & Equity, or GARE.

“They believe government’s proactive work on racial equity has the potential to leverage significant change, setting the stage for the achievement of racial equity in our communities,” Bockelman wrote.

Becoming part of the organization is one element of ongoing efforts in town to fight racism and inequity in the community, which Bockelman said has included conversations with the Racial Equity Task Force and the Defund 413 Amherst organization. In addition, $80,000 in the town budget is set aside for this work.

Bockelman said he will reach out to other members of the Black, indigenous and people of color communities and anticipates having a presentation for the council later this month.

Brianna Sunryd, communications manager for the town, said joining GARE is a significant step.

Initially, Amherst is seeking technical assistance for racial equity training for staff and help with implicit bias training, and the launch of bigger community-based projects aimed at increasing social justice, Sunryd said.

The town applied to be a member in August and was accepted into the program later that month, Sunryd said.

GARE has worked with 197 local and regional government jurisdictions across the country, including Boston, which is planning for housing, transportation and infrastructure that will ensure equitable opportunities for all residents. Brookline, another member, has committed to embracing diversity and recognizing that people of color and other marginalized groups face barriers to equity in housing and employment.

GARE is a joint project of the new Race Forward in Oakland, California, and the Haas Institute for a Fair & Inclusive Society based at the University of California-Berkeley.