Proposal to Board of Selectmen: OSDTC Preamble and Resolution: “Racism as a Public Health Crisis”

To: Carl P. Fortuna, Scott Giegerich, Matt Pugliese From: Old Saybrook Democratic Town Committee Date: September 30, 2020
Subject: Draft Resolution on Racism as a Public Health Crisis

Attached is a draft resolution declaring Racism as a Public Health Crisis for the Town.
In forwarding this to you, we would like to explain why we hold this to be an important matter. At first reading, some might see this as a statement of alarm or a mark on the character and values of our town. A declaration that our community is toxic and unsympathetic toward people of color. This resolution is the opposite. It declares that the Town of Old Saybrook is a community that values all people of color, and welcomes all to live and work in our town. It shows that our community is self-aware and committed to growing and learning and improving. It acknowledges that systemic racism has been in place across the nation, the state and yes even in our community. It shows that we understand the significant impact of racism on the health and well-being of people of color. It makes public an intent to reverse that course for the betterment of all. It shows we see the opportunity to make our community more healthy, more prosperous, more whole, and more welcoming and receptive; which can only mean an improvement in the lives of all citizens. The Old Saybrook Democratic Town Committee sees this declaration as aligned with the First Selectman’s public support for Deed Restricted housing to help address matters of diversity in Old Saybrook. Racism is often embedded in our thoughts and in our actions – conscious and unconscious – “below the surface”. As a result, the experiences of people of color are unconsidered or misunderstood. The consequences for them over time are significant. Reversing past action and inaction is a course that will involve disciplined thought and considered actions. This resolution commits the Town to take into account our thought processes and our attending actions and make a commitment to take active steps to address this issue in our community in an on-going way. When implemented, this resolution will formally challenge and empower Boards and Commissions to consider the impacts of our decisions on people of color. It suggests that data and information-gathering about our town should provide insight into the welfare of our nearly 1,000 minority citizens. In this way, we can identify biases that would otherwise be hidden, and, once identified, rectify them. Old Saybrook will be a Town in front of issues, not lagging. It will boost the confidence of our minority community in town government and encourage more participation. In addition to the positive impact on people of color, there are other positive results. An important one concerns preparing our youth for their futures. Old Saybrook’s demographic makeup is largely Caucasian, the world our children will experience beyond our Town is and will continue to be, over time, decidedly more diverse. Living in a town that is proactively thinking and acting to address racism will equip our youth to better understand and contribute to society as well as live richer and fuller lives. We respectfully urge you to pass this resolution and communicate it as the genuine opportunity it presents the Town of Old Saybrook.

Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Board of Selectmen of Old Saybrook
(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. 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 inequities 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 opportuni0es to further advance racial equity.

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