I am writing to express my support of Yarmouth’s resolution condemning hatred, bigotry, intolerance and violent action directed against individuals based on their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and/or national origin.
I am the executive director of Mindbridge, a nonprofit organization utilizing psychology and neuroscience in support of human rights-based initiatives. For years my research has sought to understand the neurobiological underpinnings of war and violence, and ultimately to discover what divides “Us” from “Them.” I am also somewhat of a new resident in Maine, having moved to Yarmouth one year ago. I was proud to see concrete steps taken by our Town Council disavowing hateful speech and violent action following the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, and upholding the virtues of human rights and inclusion.
In an age when white supremacists espouse carefully crafted and disseminated narratives of victimhood and racism, the narratives are growing louder with expanding numbers of social media followers and group membership. Research points to the increased acceptability of these narratives and, consequently, racial violence that arises from this normalization, so we must become very clear on what we stand for as a community. Words and actions matter.
On Aug. 28 the Town Council took a crucial step to counter these narratives and reaffirm our commitment to inclusion, as well as to protect and promote the human rights of every member of our community. The work undertaken by the council stands as an extraordinary example that I hope other municipalities will emulate.