Hate Crime Training for Newton School Administrators
This is when you really appreciate having a mayor of color. He has a personal understanding of racism and hate crimes. I think this is a step in the right direction. I am hoping there will be a program that Newton students can go through as well at some point. Like anti-bullying training, those who observe hate crimes need to understand that this is something that isn’t “just kids joking around” and that “kids who are of that ethnicity or religion do not need to ‘lighten up’ and not take the joke so seriously.”
Students should also understand the history behind White Privilege and Structural Racism. For example, did you know that Hearst Magazines had a policy not to hire African Americans before the Civil Rights Movement, yet Conde Nast did not? Imagine you were an African American fashion photographer who would have been hired for Harper’s Bazaar except their racist hiring policies prevented it. You could work for Vogue magazine though.
Now, decades after the Civil Rights Movement, racism in the fashion world still exists if you look at models of color and how many get magazine covers or runway shows. Is structural racism still in place?
I am writing to let you know that effective immediately, along with Superintendent of Schools David Fleishman, I will be setting in motion a series of initiatives to ensure an accepting and welcoming environment for all residents, visitors, students, staff and faculty throughout the Newton Public sSchool system.
In response to recent incidents that are contrary to the City of Newton’s values, we will be implementing programs to strengthen protocols, provide training for administrators on how to respond to hateful incidents, and engage and educate students on maintaining our community values at all times.
In order to facilitate these initiatives, we will be working with Richard W. Cole, Esq, a Civil Rights and Safe Schools consultant. Attorney Cole is a former Assistant Attorney General and former Chief of the Civil Rights Division at the Massachusetts Office of Attorney General.
I look forward to engaging the community and schools throughout the City to promote broad participation in the our efforts to ensure that a welcoming environment is in place at every school.
Lastly, earlier this month I announced that I will be hosting the first annual community discussion on ensuring that Newton is a welcoming place for all.
The event will be held on Thursday, April 7th at 6:30pm in the War Memorial of Newton City Hall, located at 1000 Commonwealth Avenue. I hope to see you there.
Setti D. Warren
City of Newton, MA