Dear Editor:

The need to remain vigilant against racial bias has been recently illustrated close to home, and a group of residents is taking a stand.

On Sunday, 18 people with Social Justice Matters, Inc., participated in a solidarity walk in the Parkwood section of Scotch Plains in response to a disturbing incident against an African-American woman who is a longtime resident.

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The woman was walking along the street, talking on her cellphone. A white woman went up to her, instructed her to get off the phone because the call was disturbing children inside nearby homes, and told her to go back to her own neighborhood. The African-American woman responded that she has lived in the neighborhood for years. She then walked away, ending the encounter.

The solidarity walk, several weeks later, began at the corner of Graymill Drive and Wood Road and proceeded along Golf Street, Dogwood Drive and Arrowwood Drive, and then looped back to the beginning point. Social Justice Matters had a prepared statement to distribute to bystanders who asked about the reason for walk, which lasted for 35 minutes and was successful.

The walk’s participants – some white, some African American – wanted to show unity among residents of different races and ethnic backgrounds and to demonstrate that residents do not consider the community fertile territory for racial bias.

Social Justice Matters is a locally based nonprofit committed to exploring the values and opportunities arising from our diverse communities. It was organized in 2009 – through the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Ministerium, a group of clergy and community leaders – in response to racially biased flyers distributed in Scotch Plains and Fanwood.

Since then, Social Justice Matters has sponsored discussions, speakers’ series, workshops, book/video reviews and training sessions for discussion facilitation. The organization also helps fund the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

We have come together to underscore that everyone, regardless of race or religious beliefs, is welcome in this community to work, play, walk, visit, engage in fellowship and enjoy its diversity.

And as a resource for community concerns, we welcome conversation about our effort and encourage everyone to join us in this endeavor.

Sincerely,

Social Justice Matters, Inc.

A 503(c)(3) Corporation

P.O. Box 621, Scotch Plains, NJ 07076
www.socialjusticematters.org