Following the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in 2020, Westwood residents came together to stand in support of the value of Black lives, in a peaceful and supportive rally that stretched from the Library down past Starbucks.
When I stepped outside my door on the morning of this vigil, I felt a great sense of pride in our community as I could see groups of families, carrying signs, approaching Gay St/High Street from all directions. I was moved by the speeches of residents determined to do something positive in the face of what has become a too familiar story of Black lives taken…killled…murdered, all too often at the hands of law enforcement. The law enforcement officers I know seek to serve and protect all members of our community and want to help solve the scourge of racism in our society. As a member of our Select Board, I will work to engage more residents who have not traditionally participated by promoting upcoming “Citizen’s Academy” programs that are being developed regionally. I will also ask how we can make our town more welcoming and inclusive of diverse viewpoints and economic backgrounds, and I will listen to the concerns of all residents as we work to strengthen our efforts at doing this.
According to the most recent demographic data I have been able to find, Westwood has a growing Asian-American population, but a very low number of Black residents:
What we can do to increase the number of black families choosing to live in Westwood? Often, when considering housing diversity, we find that affordability is strongly correlated; when the median price of a home is approaching $1 million, it is much harder to realize shifts in demographics where the proportion of minority households is a smaller percentage of the population able to afford to live in a town. Many of the recommendations of the housing section of Westwood’s Comprehensive Plan seek to address this and our Housing Production Plan provides a strategy for improving affordability for all residents.
I support studying whether there are legal methods to promote more affordable homeownership among minorities and to work to understand what barriers are keeping Westwood from becoming more diverse. I would like to see the town re-form a human rights committee or task force and build on the work being done by groups like Inclusive Westwood. I was proud to join over 200 community members and sign this letter earlier this year:
The topic of racism is challenging to navigate for many white people, but it is deadly serious for non-white people and it handicaps all of us when we believe we can simply look away, or that the problem does not exist as far as we can see, or that there is nothing we believe we can do about it. I support an ongoing dialog to do everything we can to make Westwood a more welcoming and diverse community.