HOLMDEL, NJ - The Holmdel Township Committee has determined that they have some work to do in combating racism. So, they decided to move forward with a new Ad Hoc Committee on Human Relations. It will be formed next month and is charged with making recommendations to the Township Committee for policies that will aid in the prevention of discrimination with a particular focus on racism. It is similar to a Human Relations Council ordinance that has been on the books for 25 years.
The Ad Hoc Committee was introduced by Deputy Mayor Weber, seconded by Committeeman Santhana and voted unanimously by them and Mayor Buontempo, who was also present.
In a pointed portion toward the end of the meeting, Santhana and Weber also offered support for Black Lives Matter. Based on information gleaned from the official website, The Black Lives Matter organization is not focused solely on race. BLM is actively working to defund the police and reorganize society beyond race.
BLM is against what they call 'heteronormative' thinking, 'seek to disrupt the western-prescribed nuclear family' (man, woman, children) and are forging ahead with a range of other issues having nothing to do with being Black.
From the Black Lives Matter website (Italics):
"We are unapologetically Black in our positioning. In affirming that Black Lives Matter, we need not qualify our position. To love and desire freedom and justice for ourselves is a prerequisite for wanting the same for others.
We see ourselves as part of the global Black family, and we are aware of the different ways we are impacted or privileged as Black people who exist in different parts of the world.
We are guided by the fact that all Black lives matter, regardless of actual or perceived sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, immigration status, or location.
We make space for transgender brothers and sisters to participate and lead.
We are self-reflexive and do the work required to dismantle cisgender privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence.
We build a space that affirms Black women and is free from sexism, misogyny, and environments in which men are centered.
We practice empathy. We engage comrades with the intent to learn about and connect with their contexts.
We make our spaces family-friendly and enable parents to fully participate with their children. We dismantle the patriarchal practice that requires mothers to work “double shifts” so that they can mother in private even as they participate in public justice work.
We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.
We foster a queer‐affirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking, or rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual (unless s/he or they disclose otherwise)."
Committeeman Santhana expressed his 'vociferous' support for Black Lives Matter: (Township's Facebook at about 3:08)
"I heard several people come up here and say that the Committee has been silent on this." said Santhana. "First of all, I have actively and vociferously supported Black Lives Matter. I do believe that Black Americans are subject to more racism - systemic racism - across this country and have stated it very clearly. I've also purposely - please read this carefully - neither supported keeping the blue line nor have actively opposed it and publicly oppose removing it for a reason. The reason is that this issue is making the town divisive - now being this is a divisive issue it's very easy to be passionate and take aside but it's courageous if you can put your passion aside and remain objective and find out what could be the right solution." Said Santhana.
"I want to I ask you this - what do you recommend - getting rid of the blue line and aggravating racism or removing systemic racism - if your answer is the latter please understand - sometimes it may take some time and sometimes it may be good not to be part of this divisive issue and remove yourself and remain objective and come up with a long-term plan." said Santhana.
Deputy Mayor Weber agreed with Santhana on Black Lives Matter. "I just want to add as I have previously stated as well because I note that some of these speakers are at this meeting that haven't been in prior meetings. I have emphatically stated that I believe the Black Lives Matter, and I am attempting to work through the division in this community and this community is divided on this issue in no uncertain terms, and so I feel my job as a leader is to bring us together and increase understanding and acceptance so that people do the right thing." Said Weber.
It is not for me to tell people what the right thing is to do. I need to get our community on board and to come together and that's what I'm trying to do with this Human Relations committee, which is explicitly charged with coming up with policies, procedures and programs that will help prevent and eliminate all types of discrimination, starting first and foremost with racism. I would like to see Holmdel be a model community for how we address that and a lot of it is because we need to educate ourselves and educate each other and have respectful dialogue and discourse. Without that, we cannot move forward - and I have been called names and I have been sworn at and I will tell you that is not appreciated and is not going to move us forward. I would like to work with people who are willing to have thoughtful conversation and really think of ways that we can be constructive, so I thank people who have made a few suggestions tonight. I have suggestions of my own which I am going to hold because I want to hear what our community comes up with for how we can come together and learn from each other and be better for it. So, I welcome everyone who is interested to apply for this committee and I can assure you were going to attempt to get diverse representation on that committee." said Weber.
The Mayor closed the meeting to let people know that they may have in person meetings soon. Most towns have reopened and have in person public meetings.
The Ad Hoc Committee will be named at the next Township Committee meeting to be held on August 11th. To apply to be a part of it, check out the town's website HERE.