Open Letter to Rush Henrietta Town Supervisor Cathleen Frank
To say I am surprised by the comments made by Doug Watson a white male member of your fire department recently calling for the hanging of Rochester Councilman Adam McFadden would be a lie. I am however, appalled by your town and department’s handling of the matter, lack of accountability, transparency, or lack of apology hereafter as highlighted by Rochester Indie Media.
Even though you say this member’s statements do not reflect the values, ideals and views of the Town of Rush Henrietta or the Fire Department the aftermath and effective or ineffective handling of such a deeply sensitive and racist incident sends a strong message about you as a public official, your department, and leaders that work under you. You have the platform, ability, and privilege to use this as an opportunity to teach your community and hold members accountable for their overt implicit racist biases and comments whether intentional or not. These issues have been publicly delivered to you so you can no longer plead ignorance. There are many members of the local community that have offered to lead training and guidance so that you do not lose this opportunity as a public official to address the deep seated individual and institutional racism that plagues Rochester and the segregated surrounding towns that most certainly include Rush Henrietta. So far these offers have been ignored. History has shown that ignoring racism and not responding to racist remarks does not make racism go away.
It is my hope that you take this opportunity, stand in the discomfort and move the discussion forward instead of burying your head in the sand and pretending that there is no problem which is so often the status quo by leaders locally and nationally.