Racism is digusting no matter where or how it rears its head, but the fact that racist graffiti was recently discovered on the side of Doolittle School is enough to make one’s blood boil.
This is where our youngest generation go to learn, grow, and form the initial bonds of friendship. Ideally, elementary schools should be nurturing, uplifting places that teach togetherness and leave the mess of a society created by adults outside the door.
The fact that such vile language was smeared on the side of a school and designed specifically to be viewed by the youngest among us reveals the twisted sensibilities of whoever perpetrated the vandalism to begin with.
Last Wednesday, Cheshire’s top officials circulated a letter condemning the graffiti and insisting that such a random act does not in any way reflect the values of the community. They are right. Too often in modern society, we hold the collective responsible for the actions of the few or even the one. Cheshire is not an irredeemably racist town because someone wrote horrifically racist graffiti on the side of a building, and it would be improper to suggest otherwise.
It would also be improper to assign the worst of motivations to local officials for their tardy response to the incident. Last week’s statement came almost two full weeks after the graffiti was first discovered and such a delay is worthy of criticism, as the Town’s leading voices should have immediately sought to denounce the act of racism and vandalism while explaining that an investigation was underway. Doing so would not have impeded the Town’s ability to conduct said investigation or prevented an update being relayed to the public once it became available.
But unless further information shows otherwise, that is an error in judgment and not proof that officials in Cheshire don’t care about racism or those impacted by it.
As of now, we know nothing about the vandals. We don’t know how many were involved, where they reside, or what their motivations were for writing the slurs. Guessing only makes things worse, and when dealing with such delicate issues, only facts, not wild rumors or accusations, should be shared. We hope the investigation currently underway ends in the apprehension of those responsible.
Yet, while we don’t know who did this, we know the impact of their actions. There are people in Cheshire who feel a little less secure, a little less included, a little less valued today than they did yesterday. It’s a shame that one act of hateful vandalism can evoke such emotions, but it’s the reality of our current world. We are on edge, wary of one another, and suspicious of each other’s motivations. This kind of hate, displayed for all to see, only stokes such flames.
But it should also remind us that racism is almost always an illness of the heart, not the head — born out of something broken inside the human spirit, something that makes some want to lash out against those who are different than themselves. It is not logical or thoughtful or fully-formed. And it infects everything with which it comes in contact.
We hope that infection does not spread in Cheshire. We hope this one incident dies the rightful death it deserves.