The Winchendon Courier
Serving the community since 1878 ~ A By Light Unseen Media publication
Week of September 17 to September 24, 2020


Yesterday I signed in to a very interesting webinar co-hosted by the Winchendon Residents Action Group and Beals Memorial Library. It was titled "Racial Justice in School Curriculum" and featured three panelists: Sharmese Gunn, Academic Counselor at Mount Wachusett Community College; Alicia Jordan, U.S. History teacher and Assistant Head of School at The Winchendon School; and Amanda Rodgers, an English teacher at Murdock Middle School.

The discussion focused on how to expand the collective point of view in schools' teaching of history and culture to include those voices not often heard in traditional class materials--the textbooks and lessons most of us had in public school, especially if we're older. I'm very enthusiastic about the movement to look more deeply into our history and explore the literary and artistic work of people past and present who are not or were not affluent, white, straight and Christian.

But not every white, straight, Christian American finds this trend exciting. In fact, some of them find it downright threatening. Another attendee at the webinar posted several questions in the chat window. "What's wrong with being Eurocentric?" he wanted to know, and "I heard that to be anti-racist you have to judge everyone by race. Is that true?"

For the record, no, it's not. And fortunately, the panelists and moderators knew as well I did when they were just being baited. One of the moderators was Camille Hart, a Murdock High School student who posted a petition about making school curricula more diverse in a local Facebook group, and was attacked, flamed, and generally treated horribly by adults in the group (who should all be ashamed of themselves, but aren't). Camille has a degree of poise and equanimity under fire that would be impressive in a person of any age.

Today I'm seeing on the news that some people think teaching anti-racism, social justice, and the darker side of our history is "un-American," "an insult to the Founding Fathers" and "left-wing indoctrination."

None of these things are true.

There is a very dark side to American history, and it does none of us any good to pretend it's not there. Part of growing up and taking responsibility is honestly facing our own mistakes and doing what we can to make amends for harm we've caused, or didn't prevent. Every religion teaches this. Every philosophy teaches this. If we don't confront our shadow side and transform it, it will devour us. We're at the mercy of the secrets we hide.

We're seeing this conflict for America's soul playing out in real time, right now, all around us. Some of us recognize this conflict and the stakes involved for what they are...and some people don't.

Children go through a phase when fair play, justice, and equality are very important to them. This is the time when lessons about oppression, social justice, honesty, and understanding the experiences of others will have the greatest impact. It's different with different kids, but on average this phase is from age 10 to age 12. This is when schools need to be teaching diversity and inclusion. High school and college is too late.

The Winchendon Residents Action Group will be hosting a series of these webinars; the next one will be on "Poverty and Privilege." Watch for it; I'm sure it will raise some relevant issues for us Toy Towners.

Inanna Arthen

A Congratulations & Thank You to the Voters of Worcester County

Dear Worcester County Residents,

Following the results from the September 1, 2020 Primary Election, I wanted to publicly congratulate Paul DePalo on winning the Democratic Nomination for the Governor’s Council seat of District Seven. After getting to know Paul over the last six months campaigning against one another for the democratic nomination, I know Paul will represent the people of Worcester County proudly.

I also would like to thank the voters of the 65 towns making up District Seven for their kindness, encouragement, and support during my campaign. The rush of emotion and inspiration to continue campaigning is like no other and I encourage residents to be more active and strongly consider one-day running for a public office. Good luck to Paul and all the other candidates as they move forward to the general election in November.

Thank you.

Padraic “Paddy” Rafferty
Worcester, Massachusetts