By J. MARIE STEVENSON
The Mashpee Inclusion and Diversity Committee, made up of a diverse group of Mashpee residents, convened via Zoom on August 11 and September 4 for the first time since early March.
In light of the recent demonstrations for racial justice occurring over the past months combined with the existing pandemic, it seems fitting that we direct our focus to our mandate, which is to raise awareness and sensitivity through education and support on human rights, diversity and inclusion. Our first goal is to acknowledge what has taken place since our last meeting.
The committee is appalled by the white supremacist propaganda posted at Mashpee Commons.
In contrast, this committee is appreciative of the demonstration in Mashpee that took place in response to George Floyd’s death and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Thank you to the organizers who brought together hundreds of diverse Mashpee residents of all ages who stood together in solidarity.
The committee recognizes the challenge ahead at a time of such racial unrest. While wrestling with the limitations placed on us by the pandemic, we seek ways to provide a platform for meaningful dialogue and group interaction.
We invite residents and visitors of Mashpee to share their experiences and suggestions relative to diversity and inclusion. We can then bring matters to the attention of the community and town departments to set priorities more effectively.
We are conducting Zoom meetings the second Tuesday of each month and remain available by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also have an opening for a voting member. Interested residents should contact the office of the Mashpee Board of Selectmen.
In the interest of finding the good and praising it, the committee members acknowledge accomplishments and events that occurred since last we met.
We celebrate the selection of Jessie Little Doe Baird by USA Today as one of the “100 Women of the Century” for her work reclaiming the Wampanoag language.
We also acknowledge the contribution of Paula Peters, who has written a new introduction to the 400th anniversary edition of William Bradford’s “Plymouth Plantation” wherein she details a more accurate history through the eyes of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.
In addition, Ms. Peters contributed to a webinar presentation from Dartmouth College aired nationwide on the colonization of indigenous people and the effect of COVID-19 on Native Americans.
Finally, we support our tribal members with their ongoing litigation to stop removal of their land in trust and to maintain the tribe’s sovereignty.
We also wish to recognize the newly reinstated human rights club at Mashpee Middle-High School for their Diversity Day project, which, supported by a dedicated faculty, showcased the accomplishments of our diverse student population. Cancellation of the Human Rights Academy in April unfortunately denied them the opportunity to share their successful project with other Cape Cod schools.
In future meetings we will continue to develop goals and plan to strengthen the alliance we have initiated with committees in Barnstable, Falmouth and Woods Hole. Our brochure, “Connecting With Each Other,” already distributed to the community will be made available electronically to local businesses, agencies, churches and organizations.
J. Marie Stevenson is chairwoman of the Mashpee Inclusion and Diversity Committee.