September 28, 2022

Letter to the Editor: LOLHS Senior Says Adopting Racism Resolution ‘Shows We Care,’ Refusing to Discuss it is ‘Gross Disservice to Community;’ Shoemaker, Lampos “Get It’

To the Editor:

I’m a senior in high school and I live in Old Lyme. Last week I attended a meeting of the Board of Selectman to support, on behalf of the students in Old Lyme, the adoption of a resolution on racism put before the board. Many of my peers feel strongly, as I do, about social justice and the continual fight for equity, and I wanted to make sure I could convey our beliefs clearly. 

As I said during public comments at the meeting, to deny the presence of racism in Old Lyme is to perpetuate a lie. For example, just last month an Old Lyme police officer, somebody who is supposed to be an unbiased peacekeeper, was suspended for allegedly yelling a racial slur out the window of his car in downtown Old Saybrook. He remains on paid leave. In addition, many other people who spoke at the meeting addressed the lack of diversity in Old Lyme. Why is Old Lyme overwhelmingly white? It is not uncommon for racist microaggressions to be made in schools, too. Last year’s valedictorian addressed this in her commencement speech. Racism is present in Old Lyme and it is harmful to everyone in our community. To ignore that is to be complicit in its damage. A number of speakers at the meeting agreed with Mr. Griswold’s position. It is wrong. By denying that there is any racism in our community and refusing to even discuss the resolution, the First Selectman is doing a gross disservice to our community and to its reputation. 

Some think that declaring racism a public health crisis will somehow paint our town in a negative light. But I believe that it does the opposite; it shows that we know there is a problem. It shows that we care. It shows that we’re ready to work together against it. 

My peers and I are the future of this town. I want to be able to tell my kids that our town was on the right side of history. I want to be able to tell them that our town helped lead the crusade on the shoreline against racism. Adopting the resolution could be a first and important step in healing the racism that divides our town and in communicating our values to the outside world. 

Martha Shoemaker and Jim Lampos support this objective. They get it. Please vote for them on November 2.

Sincerely,

Grace Cassineri,
Old Lyme.

Comments

  1. Russell Fogg says

    We should listen to the younger generation more often, especially on matters such as race. We heard her speak at the selectman’s meeting and we’re impressed with her message as well as her demeanor. My wife and I travelled to United Kingdom several years ago and were interested in the issue of the day which was “Brexit”. After numerous discussions with Brits of all ages we were impressed with the response of some of the older generation, who responded in the following way; they asked their children and grandchildren for their opinion…”as it was the younger generations future more than their own”. Do we want to preserve a delusion about Old Lyme, or do we move forward with hope. Let’s follow Graces advice on voting day.

    Russell Fogg
    Old Lyme

  2. There is a middle ground between “racism exists” and “racism is a public health crisis”.

    • Jim Alonso says

      And a lot of people who fail to speak out about racism LOVE to point out this middle ground.

      Old Lyme needs to wake up. Griswold’s position makes us a joke in the broader world, and the reasons people give for supporting the failure to even discuss racism sound, well, racist.

      In the Board of Selectmen meeting where Griswold refused to allow the resolution to be debated, people were making public comments about their “black friends” and about how they knew white people who had black relatives, and therefore couldn’t be racist. One person talked about the black teacher who was in the school district a few decades ago, and how that one black person who worked in the district was somehow proof that we don’t need to talk about racism.

      In the real world, statements like this are signs of racial bias. Saying stuff like that in a workplace will get you fired, or at the very least sanctioned by HR. Statements like this are signs of racism. We need to wake up and take a long look in the mirror, and then get ready to do some hard work. If we don’t, we’ll only have ourselves to blame when the outside world calls us on our backwards attitudes.