This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
giving it too much energy, I also want to share my reasons for not participating today. I am not sending this
to the press but I am going to protect the integrity of this work! Feel free to share your thoughts. Much
If we are truly serious and genuine about creating a space for progressive and proactive discourse in our
community, we have to be committed to authenticity and determined to create an appropriate platform to do
so, and not succumb to or encourage sensationalism, rhetoric, impatience or insensitivity to the variety of
voices and needs within our community. I believe the administration’s request to postpone, in consideration
for inviting expert panelists to provide substance, tangible pathways and proper context was reasonable and
speaks to this goal. It also speaks to the administration’s commitment to this effort. My request to refrain
from participating in what I felt would be a basic media tactic called racebaiting (as an unfair and misguided
attempt to provoke participants), was honored and supported by this administration. This was not an affront
to any of the panelists, as Mr. Flaherty suggested multiples times, which in and of itself is divisive.
If Mr. Flaherty was truly committed to the wellbeing of our community and truly concerned about racism, he
would have respected and understood the concerns expressed during our conversation of August 20 about
the potential negative impact of conducting a dialog about racism out of context of the larger issues facing
us as a community and society, and without expert input regarding tangible pathways that lead to equitable
outcomes. Based solely on inflammatory statements in an email sent by Mr. Flaherty two days before the
discussion, with reasonable concern, the administration simply asked Mr. Flaherty to postpone the
discussion to a later date with the assurance that the panel would include those who could effectively
address systemic racism and truly move the dialog forward. Instead, Mr. Flaherty made the decision to
continue the dialog not only without regard for the complexity and sensitive nature of this issue, but also
took the opportunity to state publicly that the reason for the request for postponement was due solely to a
fear of backlash from the audience.
Yes, communitywide conversation and discourse is central to the success of any initiative aimed to
positively impact any community at large. However, if we are to progress as a people and as a community,
it must be based on practical methodology. This type of media coverage, which omits the prevalence of
systemic racism is harmful to the community and stifles the public’s understanding of its underlying causes.
Without making the distinctions between internal, interpersonal, institutional and structural racism, and
without considering hegemony as one of the most prevalent yet least talked about aspects of how racism is
maintained (and includes other aspects of oppression such as class, gender, sexuality), the public is once
again left with a false view of how the compounding effects of racism impacts our experience of it. There is
simply no benefit in rehashing old dialog without the genuine intent to incorporate dialog that focuses on
action and impact.
The decision to postpone is sound. Amherst Together will not be a side show to appease sensationalism.
We have real work to do, that will take patience and collaborative effort. It is truly time to expand our
understanding of ALL forms of oppression and cultivate dialog that reaches the core of humanity and begs
the question, “who are we really and how are we going to live together?” Amherst as a community is in
desperate need of healing and coming together. Amherst is also an amazing community with the
resources, passion and ability to do just that. I’m happy to participate in dialog where those goals are
From a personal standpoint, the participants on the panel today already know that they have my full respect
and love and that I will do everything I can to create safe spaces for expression and collaboration.