This last year was a historical time for this country and for our community. We have witnessed people stand en masse, some for the first time, to speak against the injustices perpetrated by our systems and the impact these injustices continue to have on our African-American communities.
But we have only scratched the surface of the work that still needs to be done. Every generation of African Americans in this country has been fighting for their lives and fighting for their voices to be heard and it is a constant challenge to discern who to trust in this fight and if real change will even come in our lifetime.
The Chestertown Mayor, staff, and council members need to understand how their tone and processes have led members of Social Action Committee for Racial Justice to distrust the official message of “Chestertown Unites Against Racism.”
Agreeing to stand against racism is important, but how we go about that work speaks volumes. If we don’t trust your ability to lead this process, to listen to residents of color, to engage with us in an honest and transparent way, then you jeopardize the outcome.
For example, Ward 2 Councilman Tom Herz’s comments that a search for a new police chief should consider more diverse and less expensive candidates offended many of us. The conversation at the council meeting where the mayor presented the 16-month plan sent shivers down our spine when Herz and Mayor Cerino talked over Ward 3 Councilman Tolliver and questioned his initiative to move forward with a human rights commission.
And most recently, the hot-mic video of Mayor Cerino and Zoning Administrator Kees de Mooy questioning the historical significance of the Ajax basketball court just proved to our community that two faces exist even in “progressive” Chestertown.
The first face is the one that stands in front of crowds and cries tears to their constituents that they wanted to stand for justice after the death of George Floyd or give a speech taking credit for the approval of the Black Lives Matter murals.
The other face is the one that hides behind closed doors and undermines any progress we as a community attempt to make towards addressing systemic racism and supporting our black community.
Mr. Mayor your credibility is now in question along with implementation of any plans to address racism in this town. We ask that you recuse yourself from any future voting on the Ajax project.
We also make the same recommendation we have made to elected officials for the last three years which has not been followed: train and educate yourself because it is obvious you still do not understand you are the barrier to progress.
The two faces you have shown to the community are out for all to see and sows distrust in the AA community.
Don’t be another white man who talked the talk but did not walk the walk.
“When people show you who they are, believe them,” Maya Angelou
On behalf of the Social Action Committee for Racial Justice Steering Committee,
Wanda Boyer Co-Chair, SACRJ
Arlene F. Lee Co-Chair, SACRJ