Every town has its battles for Brookline while vastly diverse in its community makeup, the underlying racism now appears to be the problem.
For those who have been raised here the racism isn’t so obvious unless you want a job within the town’s administrative structure. Then you’re definitely out of luck despite whatever qualifications you might have. Don’t get me wrong, you can get a job as a police officer, firefighter or teacher, even a principal in an elementary school. But you won’t get the job as the High School Headmaster or Town Selectman.
Unfortunately the racism trickles down to the children from the adults. I can tell you a bunch of stories, but I will share just two. My twins were in preschool at the Heath school. They came home one day in November of 2005. The older of my twins was crying as she couldn’t understand why her classmates had been so mean to her. Apparently they had told her that I couldn’t be her real mother because my skin was darker than hers and my hair wasn’t like hers so she had to be adopted. The second story involved my youngest daughter when she was in 2nd grade at Pierce on picture day in October of 2010. My daughter was in line and a girl tapped her on her shoulder saying you’re supposed to be at the back of the line because you’re black. The woman taking the picture told her that wasn’t true and to stay where she was. The young girl said to my daughter that no one would take her picture because she wasn’t pretty enough. My daughter wouldn’t tell me who the girl was, I knew she had to know who it was, but I’ve always assumed that it just hurt her too much to think about it, so she just put it out of her mind.
Despite these ugly truths I find myself continuing to love the town I grew up in. At this point, I just want to find a way to ensure that me, all of my children and my family can live happily here in this place that we know to be our home. We will continue this dance with race upon our table.
By Felina Silver Robinson
Right before the holiday break BHS (aka Brookline High School) put out its latest edition of the Sagamore. As both a parent of two separate generations of children at BHS and being a former graduate, I am always interested in hearing about what’s going on at BHS. I was excited to see what was going on. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get past one of the cover page articles entitled: “Back to School Night altercation follow-up leads to show of solidarity.”
I’ve lived in the town of Brookline for all but the first three years of my life. Brookline is more than important to me. I have always urged my children to both trust in and believe in the Police Department as well as all of its municipalities. I have friends and neighbors who are a part of the police force and they have been there when I’ve needed them. This is why I am now perplexed by the current events that have taken place.
Police officer when on duty or off duty must always retain composure and present themselves in the appropriate manner as their actions reflect the entire police department. Any driver must always observe their surroundings and safely operate a motor vehicle. Motor vehicles are deadly weapons. Driving in a school area is supposed to be in a reduced speed. Looking for parking spaces are supposed to be done airing on the side of caution assuming that students or other pedestrians are most likely walking around the area. The off-duty officer in question and not named in the article was driving with his ex-wife and teenage daughter also not named in the article came upon Juliette Estime, Gabriela Torres and two other students not named in the article. The Officer unsafely approached the students with his car. The students were standing in a space that the officer wanted. A verbal altercation ensued and it wasn’t pretty. Race language was thrown into the mix. The students were left feeling unsafe about the entire situation and just wanted to get away from it all.
The meeting was meant to bring some level of closure to the students but instead, it brought them questions as to why there was no reprimand for the officer nor was there an apology for the students involved.
How can Chief O’Leary say that while what the officer did was wrong, they don’t find him at fault for what took place. This in itself is a total contradiction. If the students continue to see that there is no reprimand or recourse at all for the actions of those in power, they will find it harder and harder to both respect and trust those in power.
Unrelated to the aforementioned incident, I’ve recently learned of other incidents involving officers of color being treated badly by their peers and the use of racial slurs putting the officers of color in uncomfortable enough standing that they don’t feel comfortable coming to work or working for the Brookline Police Department any further. Why does it feel like we are slipping backwards?
Please note, that I know that there are many officers that conduct themselves properly and have nothing but the utmost respect for their peers and I value each of those individuals.
I want what everyone else wants and that is to feel safe in my surroundings and to always be able to respect and trust in those in positions of power. We need to be sure that all of our police officers also feel safe in their work environment while at the same time all officers conduct themselves appropriately whether on-duty or off.
Acknowledging wrongdoings still comes with some sort of reprimand. An apology goes a long way, but only when the sentiment is truly meant by the deliverer.
Brookline is a wonderful place to live. I would hate for anyone to get the wrong idea about what goes on here. There is certainly more good than bad. But when and if bad occurs, we must deal with it and NOT brush it under the rug. We must care about the messages we send to both the children and the adults of our diverse community.
With that being said, I’m pleased that at least BHS is now offering a Racial Awareness class. I think it should be mandatory for at least Freshman and Seniors. It would be great if it was required each year, but I’m not sure if that would work staff wise. This course is key for the proper understanding for all party involved as to how key race is in our relationships and understanding one another.
It’s my hope that all of the current issues can and will have the appropriate outcome for all involved. May everyone choose to stay strong, stand proud, and conduct themselves with pride
by Felina Silver Robinson
I’ve had many an idol in my lifetime. There have been a number of reasons that have caused me to change my feelings towards those very idols. When I first heard about what happened with Hulk Hogan (aka Terry Bollea), I was angry and decided I no longer liked or admired him. I’ve since had time to come to terms with my feelings and reflect upon my own slips of the tongue.
Hulk Hogan mentioned in his interview with Good Morning America that as a child growing up in his neighborhood, the “n” word was used all the time but not in a necessarily derogatory way. But Hulk Hogan knew as soon as the word slipped through his lips in the moment during the disagreement with his daughter and her then boyfriend, that it wasn’t what he wanted to say and certainly not in the company that he was with. He didn’t mean it as it would appear and certainly had no idea that he was being recorded. I get it. He made a mistake. I’m sure each and every one of us has had a slip of the tongue and wished that we never had. Most of us are fortunate not to have cameras at the ready to catch any mistakes that we might make to thrust out into the open and cause a hysterical media frenzy. Unfortunately for Hulk Hogan and many others like him, it’s a constant worry and part of being a celebrity. Your life is never your own and you always have to worry about what you say and to whom.
If we see that a person is regretful in their actions and not because of what they stand to lose for them, but because they are truly personally hurting from them, then we know that they deserve forgiveness. I believe that Hulk Hogan is one of these such people. Stripping him of his affiliations may have been harsh, but understandable.
When there is a clear remorseful act committed, or when you clearly see that someone only apologizes once they realize what will then be lost to them, that’s when affiliations should be stripped. It’s about the message that’s being sent. Through time, children as well as adults have learned by what they see and hear. Behavior becomes acceptable when no one corrects it. Once it becomes acceptable, it becomes the norm, thereby making it harder to change. There are obviously some behaviors we should not encourage, and racism is one of them and being unforgiving is another. Compassion and understanding are key to living a peaceful coexistence with one another.
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