By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer
Hudson – Two town residents are moving forward with a proposal to form a diversity and inclusion committee after a summer of tough local and national conversations about race and discrimination.
Jane Chertoff and Tina Grosowsky presented their proposal to the Hudson Board of Selectmen Sept. 14 and obtained support, albeit with some criticism from board members. Now, they’re planning early meetings and gathering residents interested in participating in presentations, discussions and focus groups about race and discrimination in Hudson.
“This is our way to respond [to racism],” Grosowsky said. “This is us taking some action.”
Already on a journey of reflection and reconciliation of her own “white privilege,” Grosowsky said she was horrified by this year’s police shootings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake and others.
She attended protests outside Town Hall and joined a growing group of progressively minded locals in the new Facebook page “Hudson, MA Antiracist Resources and Allies” to talk about change in town.
With Chertoff, Grosowsky then spent the past two months meeting on three separate occasions with town leaders to get their input on this new committee.
“I just felt like it was something that was really important to do to raise up the subject in Hudson,” she said.
Though created with input from Executive Assistant Tom Moses and Police Chief Rick DiPersio, in particular, this committee exists outside of town government.
Therefore, it is not subject to open meeting laws and did not need the support of the Board of Selectmen to move forward with its organization.
Nevertheless, Chertoff and Grosowsky wanted to present their idea to Hudson’s top governing body to seek verbal support.
Though members said they were open to speaking further with the committee and its members, Selectman Scott Duplisia joined colleague Jim Quinn in opposing some aspects of Grosowsky and Chertoff’s message and presentation.
“If you’re not doing something to help and make change for people who are not white, you are contributing to the problem,” Grosowsky said near the end of her remarks.
“You had me until you said that if I’m not with you, I’m against you,” Duplisia responded.
He elaborated in a recent interview, further bristling at Grosowsky and Chertoff’s argument that a lack of diversity on the Board of Selectmen and the School Committee reflects discrimination and bias within Hudson’s government.
Duplisia noted that voters, not town bureaucracy, chose board members.
Digging into the offices for which the town does handle hiring, though, Duplisia pointed out that Hudson’s recently retired Police Chief Michael Burks is African-American and the town’s human resources director has Portuguese heritage and speaks fluent Portuguese.
“I’m not naive to say [racism] doesn’t exist,” he said, “but show me where we have an issue.”
Differences in opinion persist, but Chertoff and Grosowsky, meanwhile, reiterate that they are excited to continue setting up their committee.
“They each come to the situation with their own background and history and education,” Grosowsky said of the selectmen. “I come with a different perspective from the work that I’ve done…Everybody comes to the table with what they can. We’re glad they were supportive of us.”
Those interested in joining Hudson’s diversity and inclusion committee can reach out to Grosowsky or Chertoff at [email protected] or [email protected].