Guest Post: How I Arrived at My DEI Statement, by Beth Ellingson
*This was originally written on September 15th, 2022 and has been shared to further explain a recent letter written as of June 5th, 2023
● First, my appreciation and love for the town of New Gloucester and its residents along with my love for the principles of freedom and justice for all that the United States was founded upon is a significant motivation for my desire to help the town by serving on this Ad Hoc DEI committee.
● Second, my concern for the tumultuous climate of division (political, racial, and otherwise) that has plagued our country in recent years and been propagated by institutions of mainstream media, government, education, corporations and more, motivated me to civic engagement to help preserve and protect the freedoms that were fought so sacrificially for, some with their own lives and the lives of family members and friends. I was surprised and saddened to see this divisive climate infiltrate our beautiful, peaceful, small town. I’m extremely grateful we still live in a democratic republic that is run “by the people and for the people” and these founding principles of freedom and justice for all and equal treatment under the law are the primary reason this nation has developed into one of the freest, safest, most generous and prosperous nations in the history of the world. Why else have millions fled here escaping war, poverty, government tyranny or to pursue their dreams for a better life?
● Third, since I was a senior in high school, in a small, mill town in Western Maine, I chose to pursue a life dedicated to serving people which eventually led to work with the poor in Central American, inner-city minorities, the homeless, Indian temple prostitutes and orphans, and those suffering from food-insecurity in Maine. Love for God, service to family, church and community members are also my passions.
● How did I finally arrive at my NG DEI statement draft? I began to research the concepts of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion which led me to authors and speakers such as Martin Luther King, Ibram X. Kendi, Kimberly Crenshaw, James Lindsey (The New Discourses), Dr. Carol Swain, Dr. Xi Van Fleet, Dr. Thomas Sowell and others and I also began to review applicable principles and laws found in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, Bill of Rights and Civil Rights laws. I spoke with or recalled conversations with immigrant friends from Africa, South Africa, Central America, Germany, Russia, Iraq and India and also African Americans. In my research I learned that there are different definitions, interpretations and applications of DEI, some that actually REVERSE the tremendous progress made through the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s/70’s. I also learned that all of my immigrant or minority friends hold the United States in high esteem and do not want to be viewed as “oppressed” or “historically marginalized” or victimized. I find these friends to be some of the hardest working, intelligent, appreciative, successful, accepting people I know. They know, understand and value the founding principles of the U.S.A. better than most native-born citizens. None would like to return to live in their homeland. I also reviewed several DEI statements from Maine towns and listened to perspectives on this committee and residents who spoke or wrote to us.
Although I do not embrace the perspective that neither New Gloucester nor the United States as a whole is systematically racist, I’m not ignorant of the fact that there are individuals who are racist AND there are societal factors
and governmental policies (especially at the national/state level) that contribute to cycles of poverty, the breakdown of the nuclear family, poor health, higher crime rates, etc. I’m also aware that throughout history and the world there have been varying degrees and periods of oppression and discrimination among certain populations…some lead to the destruction of human life on a massive scale and we must always work against these injustices or prevent them from happening. In our own country and state we must reconcile with these injustices and work toward forgiveness and
healing. At the same time, we must remain vigilant in protecting the rights of individuals, the smallest minority, which is a concept that permeates the ideals our nation was founded upon. That all are EQUAL, under the law. I
might add that rights are natural and inherent and not endowed by the government, but protected by it.
I wanted to create a statement that was clearly understood by all who live, work or visit our beautiful town. I desired to keep it concise yet capturing the essence of the guiding principles of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and also anchored by the guiding principles of our national and state laws. I understand that there are many people who reside in, work in or visit New Gloucester who have little to no understanding of DEI and wanted to write a statement that was reasonable enough to be endorsed by all and was not furthering an agenda that applies extreme interpretations or standards to the residents or government of our town (for example: collective guilt, race essentialism, compelled speech or action, cultural Marxism expressed through Critical Race Theory, etc.). I recognize that my statement isn’t perfect and I’m open to the collaborative efforts of our committee in this workshop and future meetings and I appreciate and respect all of you…for your gifts and talents, experience, knowledge and desire to help New Gloucester to be one of the most excellent, flourishing, and peaceful communities in Southern Maine for generations to come.
**This is a guest post by Beth Ellingson. The views expressed are those of Beth Ellingson, and not endorsed by the New Gloucester GOP. The New Gloucester GOP supports the right of individuals to submit guest blog posts freely, and without censorship. If you are interested in sharing an article, or post please send all submissions to email@example.com