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Jan Klausner-Wise: Hoping initiative will help Amherst heal wounds

To the editor:

I have lived in Amherst for 41 years. In all that time I cannot recall a more polarizing and toxic climate in town.

Many of the issues the schools are now tackling are ones that were addressed in the 1990s by the board of the Amherst Education Foundation. We seem to have made little progress on some matters, but I am heartened that this administration and School Committee are taking them seriously and welcome community input. I have not always felt this way.

What disturbs me most, however, is the intimidating atmosphere we live in. If you are white, you may fear being called a racist if you speak up. If you are a person of color, you may fear being called a traitor. How can we have an honest conversation about these issues if we are afraid to speak up?

It is my hope that the new liaison and initiative proposed by Town Manager John Musante and Superintendent Maria Geryk will be able to move us forward in addressing the many aspects of equity — race, class, gender.

Jan Klausner-Wise Amherst

Legacy Comments3

Every article I read makes me glad I don't live in the Amherst school district...

And yet you seem to feel deeply victimized by that town in general. Otherwise, why the constant whining about a place where you're glad not to live in? I don't spend my days whining about the dump where I grew up. I left when I was 18, and kind of a lot has happened since then.

The folks causing the turmoil do not want to move forward, they don't want to have an "honest conversation", they want to hurl accusations, disrupt legitimate business meetings with chants of "white supremacists" and "white power!", and brand our school board officials, faculty and administrators (those who aren't black that is,) and even our young sons and daughters, "racists". These folks--Camila Carpio, Amilcar Shabazz and Trevor Baptiste, Kathleen Anderson, The Sherlocks, Sonjii Johnson-Anderson, Russ Vernon-Jones, OASIS/STAIRS, et al--have been spent the last year holding everyone else's feet to the fire, they have admonished everyone, in the loudest, most disruptive, most public ways possible, for simply being white. Now we see what happens when one of them is even privately admonished in a memo for telling multiple LIES while acting in his official capacity as a school official--we must drop everything and immediately assemble and disavow the admonishment, because THEY are "beyond reproach" (Baptiste), and their "reputation might be harmed"! Our school-aged kids deserve for the focus to be on them, not on an adult bathroom graffiti victim. Our town and its residents and employees do NOT deserve the 12-month admonishment we have been receiving from an immature and amateur troupe of mis-guided "activists". Enough is enough!

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