The Wellesley Select Board on Monday met in part to tackle issues of diversity, equity and inclusion, and come up with strategies for how town government can approach a goal of racial equity. The definition of racial equity that the Board worked from said that it is achieved when race can no longer be used to predict life outcomes, and outcomes for all groups are improved.
After discussion, the Board voted unanimously on the wording for a newly created official Statement on Anti-Racism and Anti-Bias, which reads:
Wellesley is a town that highly values diversity, dignity and respect for all individuals. As the Chief Executive of the town, the Select Board recognizes its responsibility to make the following declarations:
The Board opposes unequivocally any expression of hate, prejudice, intolerance, or discrimination toward any individual or group;
The Board commits to engaging the Town on race, equity and inclusion through broad and collaborative public engagement; and
The Board denounces any form of racism, discrimination or intolerance as a threat to the safety and well-being of the public. We call upon the entire Wellesley community to welcome every resident, visitor, employee and resident student in the Town.
The Wellesley Tolerance Pledge
The town has since 2016 had a Tolerance Pledge. However, the Statement on Anti-Racism and Anti-Bias does not replace the Pledge. According to Board Chair Marjorie Freiman, the Statement is to be used as a foundation for diversity, equity and inclusion work going forward. “Its purpose is to make it clear to residents that anti-racist and anti-bias values are values that the Board espouses and holds very strongly,” Freiman said.
The Tolerance Pledge reads, “The Wellesley Board of Selectmen reaffirms its position that Wellesley is a town that highly values diversity, dignity, and respect for all individuals. Wellesley strives to be a welcoming town; therefore, the Board opposes expressions of hate, intolerance and discrimination.The Board encourages the entire Wellesley community to continue to exhibit caring and supportive actions in support of our diversity.”
A word on the word “tolerance”
During the Board’s discussions, there was some talk about doing away with the word “tolerance” in The Tolerance Pledge. Lately the word has been disparaged as outdated language when working toward diversity, equity and inclusion. We tolerate a head cold. We tolerate household chores, or a dull work-day duty. The question has been put forth—Can we do no better than tolerate each other?
The word is considered still helpful by the Board for now, and so it remains. Stay tuned for more changes in language as the Board moves forward.
Below, you can view the Feb. 22 Select Board meeting, recorded by Wellesley Media, as well as a Feb. 19 meeting during which the Board addressed recent racist incidents in town: