September 17, 2021

Nosal Again Raises Resolution Against Racism at Old Lyme BOS Meeting, Griswold Agrees to Further Review But With No Agreement to Sign

OLD LYME — At the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen’s (OL BOS) meeting, Monday, Dec. 7, Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal again raised the issue of the board signing a Resolution stating Racism is a Public Health Crisis (see draft at the end of this article.) She ultimately received a commitment from First Selectman Timothy Griswold that he would look at the wording of the Resolution again, but no agreement to sign it.

Pointing out that she had been requesting this since August (see LymeLine.com reports of the Sept. 8 OL BOS meeting and the Sept. 22 OL BOS meeting), she informed the board that the Old Saybrook Board of Selectmen (BOS) had now approved the Resolution that she had previously presented.

First Selectman Timothy Griswold expressed surprise at the Old Saybrook BOS decision.

Explaining that the resolution is, “a framework for the town,” Nosal continued, “[It requires us] to look at everything with racial equity. I think because we are white people, we think everything is fine.”

Noting the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities is supporting the Resolution, which has already been approved by numerous towns in the state, Nosal commented, “As white people, we are not trained to think something is happening because it doesn’t happen to us. Data supports the fact that our systems support certain people but not everybody.”

Then, urging the board to make a decision, she said, “We need to move forward. It takes courage,” adding, “I’m asking us again to do the right thing. It takes political courage to do this. To ignore this, it boggles my mind.”

Nosal informed the board that she believed the next legislative session will take up the resolution, and said she felt, “It would be helpful for [State Rep.] Devin Carney to have our experiences.”  She stated firmly, “I’m here to help.”

Griswold agreed to look at the Resolution again, but commented, “I don’t have a whole lot of time,” adding, “I’m not comfortable with some of the things it’s setting us up to do … I’m not comfortable with the language.”

He concluded, “We’ll look at it again,” noting that Nosal was, “persistent.”

***

The following is the original DRAFT Resolution that Nosal presented for discussion. She has since offered other versions of the document with amended wording.

WHEREAS, racism is a social system with multiple dimensions: individual racism that is interpersonal and/or internalized or systemic racism that is institutional or structural, and is a system of structuring opportunity and assigning value based on the social interpretation of how one looks;

WHEREAS race is a social construct with no biological basis; 

WHEREAS racism unfairly disadvantages specific individuals and communities, while unfairly giving advantages to other individuals and communities, and saps the strength of the whole society through the waste of human resources; 

WHEREAS racism is a root cause of poverty and constricts economic mobility; 

WHEREAS racism causes persistent discrimination and disparate outcomes in many areas of life, including housing, education, employment, and criminal justice, and is itself a social determinant of health; 

WHEREAS racism and segregation have exacerbated a health divide resulting in people of color in Connecticut bearing a disproportionate burden of illness and mortality including COVID-19 infection and death, heart disease, diabetes, and infant mortality; 

WHEREAS Black, Native American, Asian and Latino residents are more likely to experience poor health outcomes as a consequence of inequities in economic stability, education, physical environment, food, and access to health care and these inequities are, themselves, a result of racism; 

WHEREAS more than 100 studies have linked racism to worse health outcomes; and 

WHEREAS the collective prosperity and wellbeing of TOWN depends upon equitable access to opportunity for every resident regardless of the color of their skin: 

Now, therefore, be it Resolved, that the TOWN Board of Selectmen

(1) Assert that racism is a public health crisis affecting our town and all of Connecticut; 

(2) Work to progress as an equity and justice-oriented organization, by continuing to identify specific activities to enhance diversity and to ensure antiracism principles across our leadership, staffing and contracting;

(3) Promote equity through all policies approved by the Board of Selectmen and enhance educational efforts aimed at understanding, addressing and dismantling racism and how it affects the delivery of human and social services, economic development and public safety;

(4) Improve the quality of the data our town collects and the analysis of that data—it is not enough to assume that an initiative is producing its intended outcome, qualitative and quantitative data should be used to assess inequities in impact and continuously improve;

(5) Continue to advocate locally for relevant policies that improve health in communities of color, and support local, state, regional, and federal initiatives that advance efforts to dismantle systemic racism;

(6) Further work to solidify alliances and partnerships with other organizations that are confronting racism and encourage other local, state, regional, and national entities to recognize racism as a public health crisis;

(7) Support community efforts to amplify issues of racism and engage actively and authentically with communities of color wherever they live; and

(8) Identify clear goals and objectives, including periodic reports to the Board of Selectmen, to assess progress and capitalize on opportunities to further advance racial equity.

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Richard W. Stout III says

    This resolution needs to be adopted. Plain and simple.

  2. Candace Fuchs says

    It would be a travesty for history to record Old Lyme as the community who denied the reality of systemic racism.

  3. Comments like, “i’m not comfortable….” and “I don’t have a whole lot of time” are truly indicative of white privilege. To solve racial issues it will not be comfortable and it will take time. The investment is worth it. Living in a community that is virtually all white may actually be pointing directly at the issue.
    We should agree to this resolution and stop ‘thinking about it”.

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