Aaron Falbel: ‘Racism can and does happen here’

  •   mactrunk

Thursday, November 26, 2020

We are a group of concerned Deerfield and Sunderland residents who have become aware of recent, disturbing incidents of hate speech and racist symbols occurring in the Valley. In October, during the virtual screening of a film called “I’m Not Racist … Am I?” at Frontier Regional School, a few seventh grade students posted several racist comments in the chat log. They were told to stop, but the comments continued. In the weeks following this incident, two Swastikas appeared in Deerfield, one etched into the pavement on a residential side street and another appearing on a private residence.

Then, in early November, racist stickers were found pasted on the building housing The Resistance Center in Northampton. According to police, the vandalism consisted of stickers, including one with a swastika, identifying a known neo-Nazi group.

There has been very little attention given to these events in the media. We, the undersigned, categorically condemn these incidents and wish to assert that racism has no place in our community. The Gazette needs to focus on these incidents and foster a community-wide dialogue about them. If people are under the impression that racism is a big city problem and that it can’t happen here, then they are sadly mistaken. It can and it does. Hate speech hurts. Racist symbols offend. These are not jokes. Our society needs to come to terms with white supremacy and systemic racism in our midst, which, we believe, are the sources of such appalling behavior. Thinking that these incidents are merely due to “rogue students” or “bad apples” misses the point. It is the tacit, widespread and systemic aspect of unexamined racism that makes such acts appear acceptable or funny to their perpetrators.

Aaron Falbel submitted this letter on behalf of Deerfield and Sunderland residents Diane Mercomes, Kim Audette, Suan Triolo, Lu Vincent, Suzanne Ryan, Josephine Burnett, Jennifer Unkles, Carol Dupre, Joanna Schoen, Scott Reed, Analee Wulfkuhle, Laura Williams and Jay Baudermann.