I know that I am just a “person of no color,”(is that the correct term for what they used to call a “white person?”) But still, I was very disappointed to hear the City Council vote against the new positions that the Mayor had asked them to fund. The greatest controversy, of course, was over the hiring of a Diversity Director. Anything about race will always be difficult in America. It was sad to me to hear most of the council express various reasons that they thought the position wasn’t necessary at all, wasn’t needed yet, or had to be recommended by an independent consultant before they would know it was needed. Of course, the two people of color on the council (and one other,) voted for the position. Margareth Shepard was incredibly eloquent in explaining that she wanted to see more people like her become real parts of our city, and that a Diversity Director would help that happen. Members of the public, mostly, but not all, people of color, also spoke up about why filling this position was important to them. But most of the “Councilors of no color,” still seemed to think they had the right to get rid of it.
This is the part I just do not understand. I understand that real estate taxes are high in Framingham (I pay them too,) I understand that this can be quite hard on some people, among these, us older folks. But why is thisthe best way to save money? What it is that makes people of no color feel they have the right to decide about the needs of people who are not them? This I do not get at all. It is just as if people without disabilities decided that the city could save money by not building a handicapped ramp to City Hall, or by waiting a while to build it, or that they had to get an expert in to say that it is necessary before doing anything. It seems to me that it should be up to the people whom such things would support to tell the rest of us if they need it, and they did, loud and clear. For that matter, the Mayor is herself a person of color, and she explained clearly why the position is needed. We elected her because of who she is. Why not, then listen to what she says she needs?
It was especially hard hearing a Councilor of no color saying that there are no problems in Framingham related to diversity, like hearing a man say that women are treated equally, or a Christian saying that Muslims and Jews have no extra difficulties living in this Christian country. Only the people, it seems to me, who are suffering the injustices that result from prejudice can tell if there is a problem. And we should listen to what they have to say. The message that this vote sends to all the people of color in Framingham is that, once again, your needs must wait while other, more important needs are taken care of. The fact that most of our city councilors do not understand this fact means to me that we didn’t elect the right people for this new city.