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The Importance of Walking the Walk

Newton Upstanders came together in the wake of two deeply troubling anti-DEI efforts here in our City. First, the attempt to undermine Newton Public Schools’ commitment to racial equity under the guise of “academic excellence” and second, the protest against including a drag performer as a part of the student-organized ToBeGlad Day.

Many people in Newton felt proud of the way our community pushed back on these attempts to undermine and oppose our community values. But it is important to note that standing up for Newton Public Schools (NPS) was buoyed by NPS’ well-established commitment to creating an inclusive school community. Not only does NPS have a strong Statement of Values and Commitment to Racial Equity, but it also has a Department of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with a Director and an Assistant Director, a DEI Advisory Committee, and BIPOC Staff Advisory Groups. NPS is deeply engaged in the work of antiracism and inclusion and this is clearly reflected in its policies and practices; we applaud them for this work.

The City of Newton, however, has not yet demonstrated this same level of commitment. While Newton has taken some positive steps and asserts a commitment to this work, the City has yet to allocate the resources needed to create truly inclusive and antiracist policies and practices. Unlike many neighboring cities and towns, Newton lacks a dedicated DEI Director or Statement of Values. Where Newton should be a leader, we have fallen behind. We must not accept this status quo as the best we can do in our community.

The need for this type of leadership was brought into sharp focus leading up to, during, and, critically, after the incident at the Boston Marathon in which two predominantly BIPOC cheer groups were overpoliced. Quite simply, having a dedicated, qualified DEI expert and the right policies in place would likely have led to different outcomes for our community and the running groups that were just trying to celebrate this joyous day.

Newton Upstanders officially adds its voice in calling on the City to demonstrate its commitment to and prioritization of DEI by creating and funding a Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and developing a public Statement of Values. We stand in solidarity with the Newton Coalition of Black Residents, the League of Women Voters, Uniting Citizens for Housing Affordability in Newton, Families Organizing for Racial Justice, and the Indigenous People’s Day Committee who have long been calling for this commitment from the City.

We know this work is hard and we will all make mistakes along this journey. But to paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, doing what is right takes courage, and we do believe at its heart, Newton is courageous.

Newton, it is time to walk the walk.


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