We are sending this message to 1) update you on the status of the Cortlandt Diversity Task Force as it existed last year, 2) let you know about local anti-racism and anti-discrimination initiatives, and 3) invite your participation in a collective learning process that we can translate into constructive social action.


All members of the Cortlandt Diversity Task Force have declined reappointment to that body. The Journal News carried a short piece about this in yesterday’s paper . After working for over eighteen months – meeting often twice a month – we lost confidence in the Town’s good faith effort to implement the recommendations of the Task Force. Their behaviors have not been commensurate with their words, the results reflecting a lack of awareness and action that we consider intolerable. This loss of confidence is further based on a lack of response from the Town while the Task Force was active and our inability to gain approval to be in direct contact with the community.


We recognize that for elected Town officials priorities are often directed toward promoting and supporting events that help foster a positive Town image. We were not interested in promoting "feel good" events, rather, we see the need for deeper and sustained approaches.


Over two years ago we had a cross burning in our community. People who understand the implications and ramifications of that act are not ready to simply feel good about this community; work must be done to help prevent something like this from happening again.


Former members of the Diversity Task Force are joining with other individuals and organizations to redirect our efforts and begin again. We invite you to join us and hope to create a broad collaboration toward a common goal. We will work without external constraints, limited only by our own abilities and resources.


Our critical starting point will be to educate ourselves about the roots and dynamics of racism, and all of our roles in it. Then, to understand how the roots of racism set the stage for other forms of discrimination and intolerance in our communities, and keep us from effectively working together. We hope to open up a dialogue that can help us understand where we come from, articulate what sort of community we want to be, and collaborate on what our new choices might be so we can help create it.


We plan to attend the March "Undoing Racism/Community Organizing" workshop offered by the Anti-Racist Alliance and The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. The workshop flyer is attached and we invite you to join us. This will be an important opportunity for our education and for building a common base of understanding from which we can constructively move forward. We will also work with recommendations outlined in the attached report.


We have started building relationships for this collaboration with:

~ PAPA, the Peekskill Area Pastors Association (;

~ WESPAC Foundation (;

~ The Anti-Racist Alliance (; and

~ The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (


We thank these organizations and Rev. David Billings for their guidance and support, and we invite you to join us, as an individual or organization working on anti-racism and issues of social equity.


If you are interested in this work, please let us know by replying with your contact information. Also, please indicate if you would like to participate in leading and coordinating activities. We will call a meeting of leaders soon to discuss how to proceed.


We hope you will join us.


Clarissa Beyah-Taylor

Tracy Breneman

Rev. Michael Champion

Jim Edler

Garrison Jackson



Cortlandt Diversity Task Force report

"Undoing Racism/Community Organizing" workshop flyer


Cortlandt Peekskill Anti-Racism
in collaboration with:
~ PAPA, the Peekskill Area Pastors Association (
~ WESPAC Foundation (
~ The Anti-Racist Alliance (
~ The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (
~ (hoping to add other organizations)

If you received this message as a forward and would like to receive future messages from this group, send us your contact information and we will add you to the list. If you received a message directly from [email protected] and prefer not to receive messages from this group, let us know and we will remove your address.