Opinion: There is no ‘other’ in a community

May 11, 2023

To the editor: The headline story in the April 20, 2023 Dartmouth Week about a racial slur painted on the Burgo Basketball Association property whose owner is Cape Verdean is just the most recent example of the hate and suspicion of the “other” that is present in our community. 

When my family and I moved to Dartmouth 45 years ago we rented a home with beach rights which made our transition to a new community easier for our youngsters. A couple of years later, we were grateful to find a permanent home in the neighborhood of small summer cottages near that beach. 

It’s nearly five decades later, but I am aware that my joy has always been tempered by what we learned about the history of the beach. Although many of those whose properties had deeded beach rights were Jewish, Jews had only very recently been accepted for membership in the private beach club that was on the other side of the row of rocks that still separates the two entities.

Being rejected from membership in a club can be hurtful; having the club you own desecrated with an ugly racial epithet “hurts a lot,” to quote Mr. Steve Burgo.

I would like to think that we can build communities where people are not seen as the “other.” Reaching out to all with kindness and care is a beginning place. But individual instances of rejection and hate have advanced to mass expressions of  ill will and harmful actions in our country.

I urge each of us to begin now to take personal and political responsibility to address and redress violations of human decency which threaten our democracy. 

Janet Freedman