Let’s Chat, Friends

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I just experienced my first Suffield on the Green and it was tremendous.

I spent both days volunteering at ABAR Suffield’s booth. For those unfamiliar with our group, ABAR stands for Anti-Bias, Anti-Racist. ABAR has held several events in town, including Suffield’s first Juneteenth and Pride events, BLM rallies, multi-faith vigils, and events centering on issues including mental health, racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and homophobia. We’ve supported local charities, picked up trash in local parks, and provided safe spaces for honest conversations.

One question we get asked a lot, and which I was asked at Suffield on the Green is, “Do you think racism is a problem in Suffield?”. My friends, the answer is yes. Absolutely yes, without a shadow of a doubt. Often when we give this answer, the person asking says something like “Well, I’ve never seen it happen in town,” or, “My kids went to the schools here and they never said anything about it.”

My response is, “of course you don’t see it.” If you aren’t on the receiving end of discriminatory words and actions, you very well might not be aware of it. When you’re not part of a certain group, you might be unaware of what they endure.

I, a white woman, have heard countless stories from friends in town who have experienced prejudice and discrimination. These stories range from actions that occurred decades ago to things that still happen today. If you don’t think these things are a problem in town, I urge you to widen your circle a bit. Branch out, meet new people and truly listen to what they have to say. We all have different life experiences. Sometimes we are so focused on our own struggles that we don’t notice our neighbors’ struggles.

These issues are not unique to Suffield. Unfortunately, they exist everywhere in our society. We have the opportunity to do better. I can’t tell you how many people stopped by our booth and thanked us for our work in town. Residents whose families lived here for generations and people who recently relocated all agreed that ABAR work is needed in Suffield.

We see the angry glares, disgusted head shakes, and middle fingers given to us. We hear the nasty comments and insults hurled our way. Instead of responding with negativity, we invite you to sit down and have a conversation with us. We truly want to hear about your feelings, experiences, and fears. Talking in a respectful manner is the only way to move forward. Arguments and insults won’t solve anything.

To the sweet young person who made a donation and thanked us for what we are doing, you are very welcome. We see you, we respect you and we’ve got your back. Suffield has made positive strides, but there is still work to be done. Let’s chat friends.

To learn more about ABAR Suffield, please visit the Facebook page of the same name, go to ABARSuffield.org, or email us at ABARSuffield@gmail.com

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