Of the roughly 12,000 residents of my small town in Connecticut, fewer than 1 percent are black, or people of color.
What many people in my town didn’t see was that prejudice was right here among them. It's rarely overt but casually present and a reality for the people like me who experience it daily.
So, when an online discussion about racism began on a community social media page, I found myself in a unique position to continue a dialogue about race, diversity, and intolerance in my small town.
However, I was heartbroken when a meaningful discussion on race with several wonderful people was abruptly stopped. Another conversation was attempted after this, only to be reported and then deleted.
I realized I only had two options, to either walk away and let things continue as they were or do something; anything to keep the conversation going. I felt that most of my community was ready to have these conversations and begin to change some things.
When I created the Harwinton and Burlington for Diversity group it was welcomed by over 80 members in the first day and has been steadily growing. However, I didn’t want this to be a story just about race and intolerance with no real action I wanted to come up with community outreach ideas. I found that members of the group were just as excited about this prospect.
When one of my close friends, my sister really (Lisa Simo-Kinzer), told me about The Kindness Rocks Project, we knew it could be a wonderful thing to introduce to the adults and kids in my community and surrounding small towns. But, the theme of diversity needed to be front and center.
I then contacted the amazing folks at the Kindness Rocks Project asking if it was okay to join their project, but change the name to a more fitting one for what we were looking to do. The “Diversity Rocks Project” was born.
I know that there will be those who won’t ever be ready to add to the conversation. That’s okay. Because change usually only happens in small steps rather than large leaps.
My favorite quote is by Margaret Mead who said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
My hope is that other small towns will start and/or continue the discussions on racism, discrimination, inclusion, and tolerance and be inspire by our group and the Diversity Rocks Project.
~by Giovanna Adams