Finding common ground for a better Arlington

Once again, the goals and purpose of Arlington Fights Racism (AFR), all of which is public on our website, are being misrepresented by those who feel threatened by our existence.

So once again, AFR asserts that we are no more and no less than what we have stated time and time again, a diverse group of residents, each with our own opinions and goals for the town, who have come together on this one thing: to address problems of systemic and institutionalized racism in Arlington, compounded by a lack of transparency in governance.

We do not demand a purity test of our members for anything beyond our stated goals. Our candidates and supporters include people who are incumbents and first timers, lifelong and new residents, renters and homeowners, low income and high, abled and disabled, young and old, parents and childless, married, single, straight, gay, cis, trans, of many faiths, of no faith, white and people of color.

If our greatest crime is having held up a light so that others can see — for which we have been called disruptive, divisive and rabble-rousing — then we’ll take it.

While our candidates and supporters may not agree on every policy or detail we consider relevant to our platform, or even outside of it, we believe in reconciling our differences. In finding common ground as we work collaboratively toward the advancement of equity and inclusion in Arlington.

We are not an exclusive club that only allows members who vote in lockstep with the majority; instead, we embrace a support network encompassing a diversity of backgrounds and lived experiences. We hope other candidates and elected officials can see the value of including diverse voices at the table, and people who may not always agree on every issue, because that is how a truly representative local democracy, and better solutions, are achieved.

Both the published comments of Arlington Lt. Rick Pedrini and the town’s response left many people feeling disturbed and dissatisfied. For that reason, AFR chose to put its energy into identifying and championing the policies and practices that will allow Arlington to act appropriately the next time these issues arise.

Members of AFR contributed to the writing of the Consensus Building Institute’s report about the town’s response to the Pedrini issues. We’ve hosted community listening sessions with the support of both town leaders and APD. We continue to look for ways we can work with APD and town leaders to repair the harm in our community that these writings, and the precedents set by the town, have caused.

But without clear policies to prevent a recurrence, the next such incident is only a matter of time. We invite you to join us in our efforts.

To learn more about our community group Arlington Fights Racism, please visit our website at www.arlingtonfightsracism.org.