January 15, 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.