Op/ed: Diversity is paramount for Darien's future

Send letters to the editor to: Editor@DarienTimes.com

Send letters to the editor to: Editor@DarienTimes.com

Hearst Connecticut Media

When I read the opinion letter “Darien High students say they stand against hate, bigotry after social media post”, I saw hope. I am so proud of the students, I think the bracelet is a brilliant idea.

I started Minority Voice, a support group for minority women in Darien, in July. We listen to each other’s stories about dealing with unconscious bias, microaggression, and sometimes, explicit racism in our town. My heart has been heavy because I could not find a solution — I am just a dumb, local artist, and I do not have power.

I have heard that people think minorities victimize themselves. I have also heard others say that only minorities stand to benefit from an increase in diversity. But I do not think either are accurate — everyone in Darien needs to embrace diversity for the greater good of our beloved town.

I recently read the book “Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult (2016), a fictional novel that centers around an African American woman who was falsely accused of murder, and a white female lawyer in New Heaven. Interestingly, in the story, when a young black lawyer hears racial comments from his white colleagues, he replies that he grew up in Darien.

Is Darien still so infamous for discrimination that it becomes commonplace to become acclimated to discriminatory behavior? Have we not changed since the era of “Gentleman’s Agreement” in 1947?

I have talked to young, white families who have just moved from the city and to other recent white Darien residents. They tell me they are disappointed with the lack of diversity in this town because they want to raise their children in a diverse environment. My other international acquaintances raise the same concern regarding the lack of diversity and inclusion here. They said they miss the fun, diverse culture of their home cities. I was surprised to hear that other non-minorities felt the same way that I did. The town needs to be aware that public opinion is changing, and that we all demand change.

Growing up in a diverse environment is important for our children. The Darien “bubble” does not prepare our youths when they leave for the “real” world. The world is changing. We all saw the demonstrations across the country after George Floyd was murdered. It is not easy for adults to change their attitude, but it is easier for youths to reconsider their beliefs. It is wonderful to see that DHS students have started to stand against hate.

I moved to Darien in 2003, and yes, I was often treated as a stupid Asian woman when I first arrived. But for the past 10 years or so, I have grown comfortable here, and I show my love for the town through my art. While many people support me as a local artist, the reality for other minority residents is not the same. Now more than ever, diversity is paramount not only for minorities, but also for the children and future of Darien.

We need to confront hatred through discussions, lectures, and education. I hope Darien can change - maybe adults need the bracelet, too. For more information about Minority Voice, contact nobu.artist@gmail.com. We share our thoughts and make friends.