To the Editor:
Let me start off by saying how grateful I am for the community that has allowed me incredible opportunities my whole life. During my time at Wilton High School, I was a member of countless clubs and organizations and I received extraordinary support from staff and students during my eleven years in the public school system.
Our community is strong and prosperous because we continuously make strides to maintain an environment that supports one another. But coming back to Wilton to quarantine after three years of college in such a tumultuous time has given me the space to reflect. Perhaps it’s time to look beyond our community and consider the outside forces that have helped shape it.
If you look around, you’ll notice Wilton is very white—96%, to be exact. It’s not a secret that from the comfort of Wilton, we aren’t exposed to much diversity. Wilton cops might not be bad, but it’s important to recognize that unlike communities of color, white communities have always been able to have relationships with and trust their police forces. We don’t need to protest against the police in Wilton because they don’t harm us. Now, look at that racial breakdown of Wilton again.
You may have heard the phrase ACAB recently: all cops are bastards. Let’s break that down. ACAB does not mean not all cops are bad people. They’re not. Bastard is derived from the word bastardize, meaning to corrupt or deface. Undoubtedly, as we see every day, cops can be corrupted by their positions of power and use their authority to inflict violence upon people, most recently exhibited via the murder of George Floyd. The very laws police are sworn to enforce are corrupt and used to hurt minorities. Cops can be corrupted by power, and they are corrupted by the laws they enforce; thus, ACAB.
I’m not calling for a march against Wilton police. What I am calling for is a recognition of the privilege that white people in places like Wilton undoubtedly receive systematic benefits from. We have a responsibility as people who live in isolated communities where we don’t see much violence in blatant ways to support the people that do. We have the power to put that privilege to good use. It’s crucial that we band together to fight injustices that exist as a result of systematic racism and biases on behalf of something so arbitrary as a person’s skin color.
Privilege does not mean you haven’t had struggles in your life. It means you don’t have any added struggles due to your skin color. And people who don’t have those privileges are struggling in our country. Even if you’re not taking to the streets, here’s what you can do from home to support to Black Lives Matter movement:
- Recognize that you are a benefactor of white privilege. Examine your lifestyle. Why are most of your friends white? What has systematically contributed to you living in and benefitting from the Wilton community?
- Post on social media to elevate black the voices to show solidarity.
- Educate yourself on your privilege by reading selections from the list below among countless other texts on race in America.
- Talk to your white friends and family about this to raise awareness. If the conversations aren’t hard, they probably aren’t productive.
- Donate! There are freedom funds to bail out protesters in cities all over the country and nonprofits including Black Lives Matter and Color of Change that need your support.
- Makes texts and calls to demand justice for black victims of police brutality.
- Check out lists of resources and sign petitions curated by people of color.
Here’s a list online resources to help educate yourself, your family, and your friends:
On White Privilege:
On the Police:
- A Brief History of Slavery and the Origins of American Policing
- Alternatives to the Police
- I’m a black ex-cop, and this is the real truth about race and policing
On Our Community:
- It may not be ripe for a large white supremacist rally, but there’s hate in CT
- Why so many children live in poverty in Fairfield County
- Separated by design: How some of Connecticut’s wealthiest towns fight affordable housing
- Data Snapshot of Youth Incarceration in Connecticut
- 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education case, segregation still a fight in Connecticut
- How segregation keeps poor students of color out of whiter, richer nearby districts
On Black History:
- Black history matters to everyone – it’s a crucial part of our nations’ story
- Why U.S. Needs Black Lives Matter Movement Today
Your neighbors will thank you for your allyship. We did this movement once and we know who the good guys and the bad guys were. Don’t be on the wrong side of history.
Wilton High School Class of 2017, 14-year Wilton resident
Scripps College Class of 2021, B.A. in Political Science and Interdisciplinary Humanities