Reparations For Amherst, Massachusetts

Dear Town Council and Mr Bockelman,

The purpose of this letter is to formally request the Town of Amherst's partnership to end structural racism and achieve racial equity, and to establish a funding source devoted to local reparations

We understand the town has taken some preliminary steps to begin the process of ensuring equal rights for its community members - including the adoption of a Human Rights Policy, the formation of a Human Rights Commission and the role of Director of Human Rights, and an $80,000 investment to identify and dismantle institutional racism  - and we are confident these measures are making an impact. However, we strongly believe there is much more work to be done and we are prepared to begin, we hope, with your participation. 

We are hereby requesting the Town of Amherst to take the following steps in a timely manner. 

  • Adopt a Resolution To End Structural Racism and Achieve Racial Equity — A written speech act which acknowledges the existence, past and present, of racial injustice and structural racism in the Town of Amherst. The resolution will specifically address Anti-Black Racism in the Town of Amherst and will affirm the town's commitment to ending it. 
  • Establish a Funding Source Devoted to Local Reparations  — Form a Subcommittee to assist with the reparations process and make recommendations about a fund devoted to local reparations for Black citizens in the Town of Amherst. Reparations - as defined for the purposes of this request - are a means of repairing past wrongdoing by growing equity and generational wealth for those injured by addressing racial disparities in education, housing, and business ownership. It is critical that reparation efforts are directed by the injured, therefore we recommend the Subcommittee be led by Black community members. 

There is a growing movement of reparations for Black Americans: The Wall Street Journal recently reported that House leaders are seeking to approve a commission to study atonement for slavery; In 2019 Evanston, Illinois adopted a resolution (which we have used as a model) to end structural racism and established a reparations fund for African American residents; Last month Asheville, North Carolina apologized for structural racism and approved reparations for Black citizens in their community. If you would like to learn more, please see the "Did You Know" document we created.

Our intention is to create responsible and sustainable transformation in the Town of Amherst. We have creative ideas, like considering cannabis revenues as a possible path for funding, but we expect a meaningful percentage of the funds to come from grants and private gifts. What we're asking for is the town's sincere partnership in confronting the legacy and current manifestations of structural racism here in Amherst. 

The late James Baldwin said, "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced." We ask you to join us to blaze a path forward that truly embodies the vision our country was built upon. 

Please direct any questions or followup to Michele Miller and Matthew Andrews

Sincerely and with Kindness,

Michele Miller, District 1

Matthew Andrews, District 2

Corinne Andrews, District 2

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