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Board 2 forms Equity Working Group to promote racial justice

Community Board 2 isn’t just talking the talk — it’s walking the walk.

As consciousness of America’s historical and entrenched racism grips the country, the board has resolved to take a hard look at “what we can do better.”

Fittingly, on Juneteenth — the 155th anniversary of the abolition of U.S. slavery — C.B. 2 sent out a notice to the community that it had formed an Equity Working Group “to signify our commitment to ending the widespread systemic injustice and violence targeting Black people in America [and] to promise…that we will uphold racial justice within Community Board 2.”

The board district includes Greenwich Village, Soho, Noho, Chinatown, Little Italy, Hudson Square and the Meatpacking District.

“This year’s Juneteenth comes at an incredibly significant moment in American history,” the notice stated, adding that what the country is currently seeing is “one of the largest social justice movements since the Civil Rights Movement.”

Co-chairing the E.W.G. will be Mar Fitzgerald and Patricia Laraia, two black female members of the board.

Included with the announcement was a letter, signed by all 50 volunteer board members, outlining the concept behind the E.W.G. — and welcoming community members to “join us in this dialogue,” calling it “an open forum”:

“We are deeply saddened by what has transpired over the past few weeks in our nation,” the board’s letter states. “Manhattan Community Board 2 stands with our community to demand meaningful change in the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Eric Garner, Amadou Diallo, Sandra Bland, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and too many others to name. Our history of racial inequity and brutality toward Black Americans has reached a tipping point and can no longer be tolerated. The time is now for us to come together to right this wrong. We must commit our collective efforts to fostering diverse and inclusive neighborhoods by proactively implementing anti-racist policy that is informed and supported by the lived experiences of our community members.

“In Community Board 2, our neighborhoods are defined by a history of political activism, unique architectural landscapes, an active creative community and the cultural mosaic of its inhabitants. Shamefully, it is equally defined by the erasure of the Lenape, who are the indigenous people of this land, as well as the Black communities, like Little Africa, that once thrived within our boundaries. This buried, forgotten and ignored history has played an important role in shaping the neighborhood that we know today.

“Our job and commitment as your local representatives and community members ourselves, is to support and uplift all members of our Greenwich Village, Little Italy, SoHo, NoHo, Hudson Square, West Village, Chinatown and Gansevoort Market family. Now, is the time to align our actions with our intentions.

“Today, we acknowledge the generational and institutional racism that our Black and brown brothers, sisters and non-binary community members have suffered on our streets, in our schools and in our workplaces for far too long. For this reason we have formed the C.B. 2 Equity Working Group to engage in dialogue and examine what we can do better. The goal is to empower and celebrate the contributions of our traditionally marginalized, underrepresented and underresourced community members, whom we hold to be integral to our healthy growth and community strength.

“We invite you to join us in this dialogue. We will maintain an open forum to hear the concerns of the public and work with our institutions, city agencies, elected officials and other policy makers to identify and enact the strongest possible solutions for social justice in C.B. 2. Please feel free to share your thoughts with us at info@cb2manhattan.org.”

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