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Why it is so vital to have a 'Conversation on Race'

Racial tension simmers and then a single incident brings it to the boiling point. The killing of George Floyd was the single incident, but the frustration and rage reflect centuries of friction, discrimination and racism. The protections guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States promise equal treatment for all citizens, but in practice some citizens remain more privileged than others.

It is the duty of our country, state and municipality to protect all citizens, regardless of race. For that protection to be substantive and not exclusionary it is the responsibility of the citizenry to actively cultivate understanding between the races. When one of these prerequisites is missing, failure is a certainty.

So, what can be done to address this unrest? One way is to become better educated about racism. We can talk about race. We can listen. To that end, a group of local residents gathered a year ago to begin a Conversation on Race and what has emerged is the Norwich Race Equity Committee. The committee has convened two “Conversation on Race” public meetings at Otis Library.

Unfortunately, the group has had to postpone the additional events scheduled through May due to COVID-19 pandemic and Gov. Lamont’s executive orders. We were making great progress in bringing a diverse group of people — representing different races, genders and socio-economic backgrounds — into the same room to have meaningful discussions. Sitting down together in a safe environment can lead to better understanding.

In the fall/winter of 2020, the Equity Committee will continue the Conversations on Race. Now more than ever, the Norwich Race Equity Committee believes this conversation is extremely important in our community. We invite you to join us.

Bill Champagne of Preston (billcrealestate@aol.com) and Lottie B. Scott of Norwich (lscott3@mindspring.com) are organizers and leaders of the Norwich Race Equity Committee and welcome your input and participation.

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