(Re: “At-large council posts could provide more diversity,” Aug. 3, 2017) A month ago, I wrote into the paper about making an effort towards more racial and gender diversity on our Common Council and received feedback that I was making an issue where there wasn’t one (“Alderman: City doesn’t have diversity issue on council,” Aug. 10, 2017).

I believed that it was a real issue then and I believe it now even more, following the events in Charlottesville last month. If we are going to change the culture of supremacy in our country, then children across the nation need to see leaders from a diversity of backgrounds, in both the smallest towns and in the highest national positions. If we are going to achieve racial and gender equality in our country, which boasts of liberty and justice for all, then small towns like Ripon that make up the backbone of this great nation need to work harder.

The city of Ripon, the First Congregational Church, of which I am the pastor, and the Republican Party all were founded by abolitionists — people who took the courageous stance that the inferior treatment of people of color was wrong, according to the wording of the Constitution, as well as according to the standards of humanism and the Gospel.

We did abolish slavery, thanks be to God, but American history is short and the wounds of racism remain wide open and festering, from the history of Jim Crow laws to unequal treatment in the military to school segregation to the Civil Rights movement to housing discrimination to mass incarceration.

There are some painful realities about race that remain in our country right now, and responsible and informed leaders — whether they’re making decisions about sidewalk cracks, business operations, or laws governing municipalities — must develop policies and strategies with closing the gaps of racial and socioeconomic disparity in mind. ...

Diversity of thought is, of course, extremely important in democracy and public discourse. But how do we measure it? We know that diversity of perspective — whether as a woman or as a racial minority or a member of the LGBT community — informs diversity of thought, and that is something we can measure. So my intention in writing these letters is to encourage input from experiences that differ from the mainstream and the majority. ...

— Rev. Joanna D’Agostino

753 Lincoln St.

To read the entire letter, see the Sept. 7, 2017 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.

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