Evan Berry’s column below first appeared in the Medfield Press, and appears here with his permission.
A favorite memory of Evan as a MHS student was when he was at my office next to the post office, where he had ridden on his bike, but then exclaimed “I forgot to lock my bike,” and on second thought added – “oh its Medfield, I don’t need to lock it.”
Take Black Lives Matter beyond North Street in Medfield
Medfield will always be my hometown. My childhood provided me with a supportive community, excellent schools and lifelong friendships. I am incredibly thankful for my upbringing here, but I quickly learned after graduating from Medfield High School that growing up in our 90% white suburb gave me enormous blind spots about racial inequality in the United States.
Seeing hundreds of community members take to the streets to support the Black Lives Matter movement made me incredibly proud of this town. But we must continue this momentum, Medfield. We need all hands on deck to challenge white supremacy and racism in our community. I’m not talking about cross-burning KKK members; I’m talking about how prejudice and implicit racism affect the way we govern, police, educate, and raise children in this town.
Supporting black lives is much more than showing up on North Street with a cardboard sign. If you believe that Black Lives Matter, your energy is also needed to support:
1. Black homeowners: Affordable housing construction in Medfield.
Affordable housing means increased socioeconomic and racial diversity. Low-income families, people of color, and immigrants are a huge part of Medfield’s service economy and deserve a shot at a home in our community as well. The NIMBY (not in my backyard) mentality and repeated fear of “traffic congestion” is a thin veil for racism, xenophobia and classism.
2. Black representation: Diversifying our public school curriculum and student body.
Every child deserves an education with windows and mirrors: windows into other cultures and lived experiences, and content that affirms and mirrors their identity. Ask your children’s teachers about their commitment to teaching about inclusivity, oppression, and justice in the classroom. Additionally, ask Medfield Public Schools why it does not participate in the desegregationist METCO program, while Dover-Sherborn, Needham, Walpole and Westwood do.
Ask the Medfield Police Department about its policies for officer complaints, race-based data collection, de-escalation, chokeholds, body cameras and warnings before applying lethal force. It has been proven that implicit bias training does little to reduce racist outcomes in policing, and any black or brown person in our community should not fear for their life in an encounter with the Medfield Police. We should also think: do we need an annual police budget of $2.5 million? Where can that funding be meaningfully reallocated in our community?
Affirming that Black Lives Matter means directing our state elected officials to support black communities. The legacies of slavery, redlining, educational inequity, and mass incarceration have lasting economic impacts on black communities. Supporting black lives means paying your fair share to invest in social programs and undo centuries of government-led violence against black people.
Last weekend, Medfield overwhelmingly affirmed that Black Lives Matter. Our next challenge is carrying this nationwide conversation into the policies and practices that shape our town. Undoing white supremacy and structural racism starts locally with every single one of us.
Evan Berry is a former resident of Medfield.