Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Standing together against racism

ANCA stands with our Black sisters and brothers in this time of nation-wide grief and protest that have resulted from the murders of George Floyd and so many others.  We stand with our Black sisters and brothers in declaring that Black Lives Matter. We stand with our Black sisters and brothers as America faces an inflection point, ready to do the hard work of making much-needed change.

This moment demands intentionality. Intentional language, intentional strategies, and intentional action to disrupt 400 plus years of racism and to dismantle the structural inequities that plague our nation.

ANCA intentionally focuses on promoting systemic change in food systems, clean energy, and the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The impact of this intentionality is visible, quantifiable and tangible to communities across the North Country.

But, if we could fix all other aspects of our local economies and not fix this, we will have failed.

Today, ANCA commits to mobilize this intentionality towards addressing systemic racism and the structural inequities in our region that affec everyone. In doing so, we recognize that as a white organization, in a predominantly white community, we must approach this work with humility, listening to and centering the voices of Black people, other people of color, and marginalized people across the region.

Of our staff of 15, all but one are white.

For most of us, when we get pulled over by the police, our worst fear is getting a ticket. When we walk out our front doors, we do not consider that our skin color will elicit negative assumptions about who we are, no matter our degrees or professional accomplishments. Fear, just because of how we look, is not a daily experience. Because we do not experience that, it is intrinsically difficult for us to know how to begin to change it.

So, we feel enormously grateful to be hosting the Adirondack Diversity Initiative (ADI), that we can learn from Nicky Hylton-Patterson, the vibrant, brilliant woman who is leading this program, despite her own fears of being Black in this mostly white region.

Nicky is working with ANCA and other groups across the region to help us learn how to change the embedded systems that affect us all. And as with any radical change, it starts within ourselves. Examining our own assumptions, unexplored biases, and how our implicit cultural affiliations affect how we see the world. Our staff is working through a cultural consciousness project with Nicky, and learning with deep humility how much we don’t know. How blind we are to the experiences of ‘the Other,’ and how to begin to do the work to make our society equitable for all.

Through Nicky and the ADI, we are learning to be active allies. To take the steps that are needed to stand with our Black sisters and brothers and not be silent bystanders.

Nicky is guiding other organizations through this same program. Since the day after George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police last Monday, 60 more people have signed up to support her work and participate in the learning process. To accommodate this interest, we will begin hosting listen-ins and teach-ins facilitated by Nicky and other Black activists in the region starting next week. We believe that Nicky’s presence here, her role here will help lead the North Country to model the America we need to become. Details will be available soon.

Together, we affirm our shared humanity as we embrace the daunting challenge of learning how to address systemic racism and structural inequity.

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Kate Fish is the Executive Director of Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA): www.adirondack.org.

38 Responses

  1. Robert Gdyk says:

    Have you ever once considered in your quest to “model the America we need to become” that there are others out there who absolutely want no part of being associated with your wonderful “Utopian” liberal hellhole?

    • Dana says:

      Human rights don’t just apply to you.

      • Robert Gdyk says:

        The Bill of Rights of the US Constitution protects the basic freedoms of EVERY United States citizen.

        • Balian the Cat says:

          It does on paper, Robert. It’s time it was evenly applied don’t you think?

          • Robert Gdyk says:

            It’s already evenly applied (by the Supreme Court), but never the mob.

            • Dana says:

              That is where you are wrong. Everyone is everyone, including protesters (“the mob”) and liberals. The Utopia you deride is guaranteed in the very documents you mention. And another document, the Declaration of Independence, recognizes the basic right of people to rise up against oppression and start anew. Perhaps that is where we are because of 400 years of racism that documents alone have been unable to resolve.

              • Robert Gdyk says:

                The Utopia you seek is an ideal society that does not exist in reality. Sounds though like you’re still hell-bent on staying in your own fairy tale.

                • Boreas says:

                  Certainly not in our society! The fairy tale is that we live in an equal America as the wealthy and powerful keep telling us. They are the very people who get unnerved by public demonstration protesting inequality. If we don’t at least try to keep moving forward, we will only backslide. So yes, I chase the ideal not the status quo. Guilty as charged.

            • Balian the Cat says:

              The mob that threw tea into Boston Harbor? The mob that took over the federal sanctuary in Oregon a couple of years ago? The mob gassed their way onto Lafayette Square the other day? Which mob are you referring to?

              • Robert Gdyk says:

                The mob that wishes to do away with the Bill of Rights and the US Constitution.

                • Balian the Cat says:

                  Got it. That would be B & C from my above list. I stand with you on this one, Robert – the Bundy’s and their ilk should be imprisoned, and the mob that forcibly removed the citizens exercising their Constitutional rights in Lafayette Square the other night should be too.

    • Jim S. says:

      Mr. Gdyk I am sure the author realized that there is a lot of racism in the United States.

    • Vanessa says:

      Robert, I want you to know that I personally am speaking to and educating as many people in the North Country as possible to hasten the advent of a glorious “liberal hellhole” that will completely abolish hate and negativity in the region.

      I am going to keep visiting, spending my hard earned dollars at tolerant, welcoming local businesses, encouraging and providing hopefully helpful advice based on my experience, making friends with your neighbors, preaching about diversity and tolerance and inclusion – and generally working to be the change I’d like to see in this community.

      Maybe, just maybe, I’ll even accomplish my dream of moving up the region, and then you’ll have a hippie left-wing activist that does a lot more than only say “black lives matter” as your neighbor! Won’t that be marvelous?

      And in this “free country” you rant about, absolutely nothing you can do that people don’t share your negative attitude.

      • Vanessa says:

        Definitely not. It it a “pain in the ass” for me to visit and appreciate one of the most naturally beautiful regions in the country?

        Also, ever stop to think that folks making intolerant comments that they heard off Fox News is a pain for the rest of us?

        The “hellhole” in question would be a place where we all have basic rights, instead of just a few of us. It’s definitely a world worth fighting for.

      • Robert Gdyk says:

        Vanessa, how soon are you replacing all the “Entering Adirondack Park” signs with “now leaving the USA?”

  2. Vanessa says:

    This is a good statement, but I will admit, it would be great to see follow up reporting about concrete steps taken to make the North Country more welcoming.

    Everyone and their cousin is making a statement. I’m very grateful to Nicky for her work, but you all will need to work hard to keep from burdening her with the momentous task of being educated in anti-racism. Even as an experienced activist, I and all white folks have a lot to learn.

    May I ask what type of organization ANCA is? What type of educational initiatives is it or ADI offering for white folks to educate themselves, in addition to speaking to PoC?

    • Bob says:

      I agree with your request for ANCA to explain who they are. I had no idea what their ANCA acronym stood for until googling it. The article needed to begin with a few short sentences explaining the location of their office, their mission, and how long they’ve existed.

    • joeadirondack@gmail.com says:

      White folks ?

  3. Reid says:

    Although I agreed with the intent of the article, it lacked journalistic objectivity as well as editorial oversight. I was extremely offended by this article because (1) it starts off with supporting our “Black sisters and brothers”, not people of color or all human beings. (2) the intentional capitalization of the word “Black” and no capitalization of “white.” That is extremely and obviously racist. This preferential and undeniable racist treatment continued throughout the article.
    For serious change to occur, there has to be understanding on all sides. Start practicing what you are preaching – in words as well as action. Otherwise, you continue to fan the flames and maintain a racist perspective, whether you recognize it or not.

  4. Charlie S says:

    “Liberal hellhole.”

    This is weird to me. The mentality! Just downright strange! How does liberal and hellhole equate? If you look at the policies of both parties it is as clear as day which party is the hellhole and I say that without an inkling of partisan in me. Just look if you so choose whoever believes in this falsehood. I can go on and on and cite endless examples, and sure…the democrats are well-known to be truck ups themselves but geez…the difference in the two – it’s like night and day! Yet there’s a whole school of thinkers like this, who choose the very party that goes against them little do they know, especially if they’re poor, or black, or female, or gay, and I’ll be darned if they don’t even give a rats ass about anything alive on this planet.

    Take per instance ‘H.J. Resolution 69’ which recently the US House of Representatives (republicans) passed. A downright nasty, cruel, inhumane slaughter of precious wildlife just to appease the NRA and other ‘righteous’ organizations. The Iraq War mentality…Kill them all! Money first. Clearly there’s a big difference between a “liberal hellhole” and a “conservative hellhole” Clearly! I speak from self-education not a partisan slant!

  5. Charlie S says:

    Robert Gdyk says: “The Bill of Rights of the US Constitution protects the basic freedoms of EVERY United States citizen.”

    Yes, and it even protects the rights of white people who choose to go around wearing white pointed hoods over their heads with peep-hole eyes and who let the world know how hateful they are. I couldn’t imagine being so hate-filled. I don’t feel sorry for them as much as I do for their children or whomever is within the circumference of their non-intelligent beings.

    • Robert Gdyk says:

      Charlie, you’re not telling me anything I don’t already know. As a Catholic, the KKK would burn me where I stand faster than anyone else on their list.

    • Jim S. says:

      Charlie, I wonder if those pointy hoods protect others from corona virus.

  6. A reminder not to “feed the trolls.” Let’s keep the conservation productive and civil. Thanks!

    • Vanessa says:

      Melissa, I appreciate the sentiment 100%. But that’s an especially tough ask for a topic like this, yeah?

      Well, at least I feel that it’s a bit unfair that we let comments that are clearly critical or said in bad faith stay unaddressed. I think that some of the responses on the post prove Ms. Fish correct 100% that the North Country has a long way to go in being welcoming to everyone.

      I personally don’t think this site should censor. However, if no one counters the people clearly just complaining because their problematic views are being challenged, how are outside observers going to know that those problematic views don’t represent the region?

      I really like material like this, and would like to see more of it printed (or “printed” – etc). Perhaps defining more clearly what “feeding the trolls” means, or having a direct link to discussion guidelines right on the page, will encourage healthier dialogue.

  7. mark salsbury says:

    I would like to receive notifications regarding Nicky’s listen-ins and teach-ins as referenced in your write-up on Standing together against racism.

  8. George Whitman says:

    Although I am on board with the concerns over the abuse of authority by police departments across the country, I am equally concerned about using this as an excuse for broader based failures latent in many minority communities. Perhaps if as much attention was given to the importance of family structure, educational attainment and responsibility for personal success, the overall status and stability of these communities would go a long way toward changing societal attitudes, and police behavior.

    • Vanessa says:

      Wow. It’s amazing that in the year of our lord 2020 that I’d have a literal application of the following sentence, but congrats, my dude, you get the prize. Your comment is the most directly racist thing I’ve read in a long time. The 1930s called – folks there want their attitude back, maybe give them a ring. 🙁

  9. Tim-Brunswick says:

    There isn’t anything “wrong” or “bad” with the Adirondacks or it’s residents and they don’t need to be educated, informed about civil rights or whatever. The only problem that I see is people/groups like Kate Fish and ANCA who are trying to cram their philosophy down everyone’s throat whether they agree and/or like it or not!

    There’s no need to fix something, unless it’s broken. My opinion and I don’t respond or debate comments later.

    Thank you

  10. Pufferguns says:

    Tim-Brunswick: Well said!! For all who took part in the looting,rioting,burning and attacks on all you are anti-American domestic terrorists.

    • Boreas says:


      I see we agree on something. Crime and violence rarely advance any rightful cause, but in rare instances it leads to revolution and independence if left to smolder.

  11. Pufferguns says:

    I dont agree with your sit on the fence positions ever..choose a side and have some balls in the game.

    • Boreas says:

      It’s easy to have “balls” when you post anonymously. I prefer using my brain more than my balls – but if balls is all you have, go for it!

  12. Charlie S says:

    Pufferguns says: “For all who took part in the looting,rioting,burning and attacks on all you are anti-American domestic terrorists.”

    Terrorist? That’s a mighty strong word Puffer. I agree the damage to private property is wrong but who should we really blame for this? Let us keep in mind what, or who, started this, not that I’m justifying violence by anybody…I am not, but It goes deeper than what appears on the surface. We are a society of violence. It has always been this way. It’s worse now I think what with television and Hollywood and the technology able to bring it to us more rapidly and ever so freely. And of course the wars that some of us support don’t help!

    Let us look at one definition of terrorism – “the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.”
    The first thing comes to mind when reading that definition is our government. By the above definition our government leaders, or Americans, are some of the biggest terrorist in the world, especially when you think of some of the things we have done and supported (some of us supported) over the years, the most recent being the Iraq War. Now I know some of you are going to cringe over that statement because the truth is just something we don’t wish to confront too often, especially if it goes against our beliefs or values or political affiliations or whatnot. The truth is the truth no matter.

    There’s so much where do I begin! How about our dearly beloved current, anti-war president who allowed the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates a year or so ago. Bombs made in America are being used by the Arabs to terrorize their own civilians as we speak, killing them outright. We don’t hear about this too much do we? Those wonderful ally Saudis so dear to our President! So you see…..we support terrorism, without really knowing oftentimes, because money (the sale of weapons) is God.

    I can go on but there’s just too much. It’s wrong what some of the protesters are doing against private property Puffer but then many things are wrong, and until we start seeing everybody else as equals, not looking down upon others because of the color of their skin, or because they’re poor or because they’re different……….

    This round of unrest started when that police officer killed that black man recently by pressing the weight of his body, via his knee, over the man’s neck…..for nearly ten minutes. That is terrorism to me, and that is why those whom you call anti-American domestic terrorists are even out there in the first place. So you see, when you, or whomever, supports whatever violence it is you support, you support all violence in my book, which by the way I hope to have out before I depart this plane.

  13. For those who wanted to know more about ANCA, this is taken from recent press release: ANCA https://adirondack.org/ is an independent, nonprofit corporation
    with a transformational approach to building prosperity across northern New
    York. ANCA’s community-informed, results-driven strategies for local food
    producers, small business owners, would-be entrepreneurs and municipal
    innovators offer targeted interventions that are designed to keep wealth
    and value in local communities.

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