Establish the Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility Commission
The following letter was read to the Town Council May 1
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to address you this evening. I’m speaking to voice my support that the Town of Winthrop officially establish the Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility Commission. Many neighboring communities have established Human Rights Commissions to ensure that a mechanism is in place for employees and residents to show and voice their support of basic human rights; the right to a workplace and community free from discrimination and hatred, a place to offer a forum to voice concerns if such discrimination occurs, and a way to establish a mechanism to educate the employees and general public of the need for a supportive, non-discriminatory environment.
Winthrop has experienced some incidents of hate and discriminatory actions directed at the women, along with Jewish, Hispanic, Muslim and African American residents of Winthrop. One incident is too many. By establishing the Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility Commission, you are making a strong statement that “Hate Has No Home Here,” a statement that is the first step in making sure that discrimination does not take a hold in our community.
It is my hope that the Commission will look at the needs of all of Winthrop’s residents, ensuring that those needs are understood and met: that people of color in Winthrop will feel welcome in our town, and be encouraged to fully participate in town government, that women are treated fairly, and that all faiths and segments of the community know that we are accepted. In light of the recent law suit against the Town of Winthrop on behalf of a female employee, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and other legal entities will be taking a close look at our Town to see if action is being taken to make sure this does not happen in the future. Establishing the Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility Commission will be viewed as a positive first step by the MCAD. The next steps must include establishing clear and concise policies for non-discriminatory practices and comprehensive training of all Town employees to ensure fair and equitable treatment (e.g. sexual harassment and diversity awareness training).
Most surrounding cities and towns have a Human Rights Commission or similar group that addresses diversity, discrimination, and promotes education in their towns. A DIA Commission in Winthrop would give persons who have experienced discrimination a place to tell their story and be given resources for coping with discrimination. It is imperative that this initiative takes place from the top levels of our government; the Town Council. As a recognized government we must ensure protection of basic human and civil rights and unity. This is a positive first step in combatting a climate that could take hold without such action. Thank you for supporting this extremely valuable initiative.
Sylvia and Maxwell Whiting