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To the Reading community:
Reading, like any town, is not immune to racism, discrimination, and hate. If we truly want to address these issues, then we should not ignore them or call them something else. Rather than saying, “This is not who we are,” we need to start asking ourselves, “Is this who we want to be?”
The following is a letter I wrote asking my neighbors in Precinct 2, who sit on Town Meeting, to support the proposed Director of Equity and Social Justice position:
I am writing to ask you to vote “yes” for the full library budget. There are many reasons I support this budget, but one is most important to me personally.
Two years ago my second oldest child, 15 at the time, came out to our family as transgender female. If I’m being completely honest, in addition to being happy for her, I am also afraid. I fear the discrimination and hate that will be directed towards her as a member of a marginalized group. And, yes, I fear it could happen in Reading (there have been more than 30 incidents of racist/anti-Semitic graffiti at the high school recently). In fact, my daughter has already experienced online harassment from a former RMHS student targeting her gender identity.
I believe addressing discrimination and hate starts with awareness and education. For this reason, I feel the inclusion of a Director of Equity and Social Justice in the library budget is a necessary step to help our community as we work towards ensuring all of us have a sense of belonging and safety. Moreover, having this position in the library will allow it to be accessed by all town members, not just school-aged children who attend RPS.
Reading is already a wonderful town. Why not strive to make us better? My hope is that a Director of Equity and Social Justice (housed in the library) will facilitate dialogue and provide resources for all of us to do just that. Thank you.
Carolyn Johnson (she/her/hers)