When we saw the first Facebook post the other week, showing an image of a T-shirt that read, “You came from there because you didn’t like there, and now you want to change here to be like there…” we took it personally. None of us were born here. We came here because it seemed like a great place to raise a family. This post seemed to reject the legitimacy of our love for this community, and our equal ownership of it.

Of course, this message is inherently racist, xenophobic, homophobic, anti-semitic, “anti-whatever-you-are,” but, for us, that didn’t really hit home until it was revealed on Labor Day that someone had specifically targeted BIPOC (Black, indigenous, and people of color) families — and by extension all other BIPOC, queer, and otherwise othered individuals who live here. That we could see it first as a screed against the city folk who’ve invaded a tight-knit suburb, rather than primarily as an insidious vessel of hate, speaks to the power of white supremacy. But we write here today to call out this act for what it is: racism.

The printing and distribution of these T-shirts represents a form of psychological terrorism not far removed from burning crosses in our neighbors’ yards. Though it may not have been intended to sow hatred, it unquestionably had that effect — and impact matters far more than intent.

Sadly, this is not an isolated incident, as the @blackatdobbs Instagram account, and many speakers at the powerful Black Lives Matter rally this past Sunday, have made clear. Our community has a lot of work to do to address the ways in which racism manifests itself in Dobbs Ferry and its institutions. We must raise public awareness on racism within our communities, and work toward change. We ask our neighbors in Dobbs Ferry and throughout the Rivertowns to join us in the project of anti-racism — and to show your support for our BIPOC neighbors.

The distribution of these T-shirts, and the vitriol spewed online around that act, is only the most blatant — and recent — embodiment of racism in our community. It is incumbent upon all of us to interrogate the systemic racism at work in Dobbs Ferry, in the Rivertowns, in Westchester, in New York, and encoded in our nation’s DNA. We must actively engage with these dangerous ideas. And we must fight to dismantle the structural forces that support them. 

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