How tempting it is to say it is a great time to be a Derbyite…your City Council and staff are putting together a budget for 2021 and a five-year plan for investing in street maintenance and capital improvements to water lines, wastewater treatment, sidewalks, and public facilities. Even with a weaker economy forecast due to the pandemic, we’re focusing on the bigger picture of long-term sustainability of the library, fire & rescue department, and other core services.
As if it weren’t enough to live in a community where such energy is focused on how best to spend taxpayer dollars, we also find ourselves developing a new long-term plan, Vision Derby 2040. Reviewing the draft at VisionDerby.com reveals the thought being devoted to key actions to ensure Derby continues to provide a high quality of life and affordable homes. I’m looking forward to watching video of the plan overview presented June 18 at the Derby Planning Commission meeting.
Wow. My cup runneth over. What a great community.
Derby is a community of great people who happen to be mostly White, which means people of color, whether residents or visitors, likely have had occasion to wonder how welcome they are here. Same as many White people would feel stepping into a community of 91% Black people. Same as my husband and I felt when we moved here 15 years ago (he’s Black, I’m White).
A couple weeks ago, following the tragic death of George Floyd, the country grieved. We grieved what one of our Derby police officers described to me as “bad officers doing bad police work, and they are now rightfully facing criminal charges.” Out of frustration, disgust and anger, some Derbyites participated in public demonstrations. Good for them. I know of five such peaceful protests held in Derby in less than two weeks. Good for us.
While our disgust about the specific incident was and still is off the charts, it also was a wake-up call for many - about whether we are doing enough to ensure inclusion, celebrate diversity, or support equality and justice. Good point. We can probably do better.
So, who is “we”? Derby has a professional and respected police department filled with people doing their best to protect and serve. I’m proud of them, and I know you are too.
That’s why I think we Derbyites should consider what each of us should do. Do I know my neighbors? Does my neighborhood welcome diversity? How can my church be more hospitable or inclusive? What work needs to be done to ensure equal justice under law?
And how do we promote honest dialogue and a culture of inclusion in our community? When I hear a Derby High School student say he routinely hears White students use racial slurs, I’m thinking we need to actively seek answers to these questions. Hearing the same student say other students call out those slurs as inappropriate is encouraging. I’m thinking we can continue to do better.
Could you let me know if you have thoughts or ideas about how we engage in community dialogue to promote a culture of inclusion in Derby? Reach me at KathySexton@Derbyweb.com or 788-5978.
Published in the Derby Informer on June 17, 2020.