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Q&A with Polly Attwood

30-year CCHRC Board Member Returns to England in September

What were the highlights of working with the CCHRC? Witnessing the cooperation between the HRC and town agencies – Police Dept, Selectmen, schools – has been very satisfying. One highlight has to be participating in the ‘birth’ of the ‘Drinking Gourd Project’, and all that signifies. I have also met and worked with some incredible people – they have taught me so much about how work gets done, about people, issues, about how a town can become a place where all are treated with dignity and respect.

What changes in human rights issues have you seen? I think that the biggest change – and challenge – is in the changed nature of many of the ‘ism’s that we fight. They tend to be much more subtle now, and have a lot to do with systemic rather than individual actions of intolerance. At the same time, the increasing instance of hate groups is very disturbing, and much of the political rhetoric that I hear bears barely veiled reference to race. It still seems to be the subtext of so much political maneuvering – references to entitlements, welfare, education, housing, crime, immigration – listen carefully, and you will hear the undertone of white privilege and to protection of that unearned privilege.

What hopes or advice do you have for the CCHRC? My hope is that the Council continues to be a strong voice and presence in the community, able to recognize what is healthy for that ‘Climate for Freedom’, and what is not. Whether it is through the annual events held each year, with connections to other agencies and groups in town, or with pro-active initiatives to counter intolerance, to increase sensitivity and awareness of the issues that will come up, the Council needs to be wide awake, and to listen to the nuances of debate within the community. Continue to recruit people for whom these issues are of paramount importance. I have great faith in the health of this community, and in the CCHRC.

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