I applaud the civil discourse on display at the Westerly Town Council Forum (hosted by the League of Women Voters South County chapter on Oct. 2). Candidates voiced their honest opinions on subjects ranging from the sale of the Tower Street property (and how the proceeds should be used) to whether or not “Plantations” should be dropped from the state’s name.
About the Columbus statue’s significance, virtually all said “leave it there,” which segued into the question, is Westerly plagued by “systemic racism?” “No,” though most acknowledged the national conversation about social, political, and economic justice that has reached the steps of the Westerly Post Office.
Democrat Brian McCuin seemed truly sympathetic to the working-class issue of striving for home ownership; he said he would vote to drop “plantations” if it would “make someone happy — why not?” And then he said, in a moment of — for me it sounded like genuine embarrassment — “Look at us,” an acknowledgement of the all-white council. That’s the kind of elected official I support. One who tells the truth, with a sense of responsibility.
America must move further into a more equitable and just 21st century. Westerly is nearly 90% white, but what about the 10% who live in a constant state of anxiety because of the color of their skin? Diversity is coming; it must. And council, since you did so well fiscally this past difficult year, how about commissioning a statue of a Native American looking directly at Christopher from the other side of the garden?