Local Summit Discusses Racism as a Community
How can we address the difficult and often uncomfortable issues raised by examining racism within ourselves and in our schools and local community? A Zoom program co-hosted by the Larchmont-Mamaroneck Local Summit and LMC Media on Tuesday morning, December 8, tackled this timely question of critical importance.
The program focused on two relatively new organizations in the Larchmont/Mamaroneck community, One Mamaroneck and CURE (the Coalition for Understanding Racism Through Education), which were formed to raise awareness about and combat racism in the schools and community. Local Summit Board Member Rev. Tami Burks presented the program and introduced the four panelists: Dante Wells, a personal trainer and Black business owner in Mamaroneck who is chair of the Community Organizing Taskforce of One Mamaroneck; Shannon Purdy, a member of the Board of Directors of One Mamaroneck; Nicole Alifante, a singer, songwriter, teacher and community organizer who is the founder of CURE; and Stacy DiCristofaro, a CURE volunteer.
Ms. Purdy and Mr. Wells related that One Mamaroneck was founded by Dr. David Martin in response to a 2018 racial bullying incident involving his daughter that he felt was mishandled by the School District. When the incident became public, a number of families that had experienced similar racial incidents in our schools came together and organized One Mamaroneck, which has evolved to become a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation. The organization’s central focus remains on addressing racism in the school system, but the organization more recently has branched out to include the larger community, recognizing that the predominantly white community of Larchmont/Mamaroneck needs to be educated and involved to effect change in the schools.
One recent activity the organization became involved with was the effort by Jarrett Winchester to paint a Black Lives Matter mural in Mamaroneck. Initially rebuffed by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Mamaroneck, Mr. Winchester asked One Mamaroneck for support. Together they approached the Village Board again, and their efforts were successful.
One Mamaroneck was also involved in the Occupy Movement on the Mamaroneck High School grounds this past summer. Alumni of MHS built a tent city to occupy the high school grounds and demand change. The organizers approached One Mamaroneck for support, and the organization supplied adult supervision.
Another One Mamaroneck event was a pop-up drive-in theater at Harbor Island showing Ava Duvernay’s movie “13th,” a documentary about the history of racism in America.
These activities in the community have faced some backlash. The Black Lives Matter mural was defaced and had to be repainted. The tent city was subject to caravans of cars driving by and hurling racial epithets. Ms. Purdy and Mr. Wells urged audience members to help their efforts by going to the website, One Mamaroneck.org and becoming educated about the issues. They invited everyone to sign up to receive their newsletter, to join a One Mamaroneck task force, and to contribute funds to the organization.
Ms. Alifante and Ms. DiCristofaro described CURE, a volunteer run advocacy group working to educate the Larchmont-Mamaroneck Community about institutional racism. They explained that we have inherited and benefitted from a foundation of racism embedded in our history. With the mantra “let’s talk,” CURE is committed to holding events that feature impactful national and local voices with the goal of changing our society and bringing about equity in our institutions.
CURE often partners with other community groups, including the Larchmont Mamaroneck Human Rights Committee, the Community Resource Center, and the Larchmont Avenue Church. Last January CURE partnered with the Larchmont Mamaroneck Human Rights Committee in producing the Committee’s 33rd annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Program. The Program featured keynote speaker Marlon Peterson, a national advocate of the abolition of prisons, and honored the Local Summit’s own Board Member and Human Rights Committee member Elizabeth Sanger for her many years of human rights work.
In addition, CURE has offered training for employers to achieve equity for domestic workers through contracts providing healthcare, vacation pay and other benefits. CURE has also provided a workshop for parents to educate and enable them to discuss race and racism with their children.
Notably, CURE recently hosted a moving and powerful presentation by Dr. Angel Acosta entitled “Contemplating 400 Years of Inequality.” Through a meditative experience Dr. Acosta explored a graphic timeline documenting the history of racism and inequality in the United States.
CURE is currently fiscally sponsored by the Lion’s Club and is working toward becoming a 501(c)3 organization. CURE can be contacted through its website learnwithcure.com.
In closing, Rev. Burks noted that the obvious response to the initial question posed by the program is an emphatic yes, that racism can and should be discussed by our community.
This forum was co-hosted by the Larchmont-Mamaroneck Local Summit and LMC Media. The next program will feature presentations by the state legislators representing the local community held on Tuesday, January 12, 2021 at 8:00 am.