YWCA Response to Tragic Nichols Murder
September 2, 2022

“I’m just trying to go home”

As we now know, Mr. Nichols did not make it home that night.  And once again, we learn of the murder of a Black man at the hands of police.

Let me begin by saying our hearts go out to the family of Mr. Nichols.  They have shown an unbelievable strength in the face of this horrific tragedy that is in the public spotlight.  We wish them peace during this time of grief.

Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina (R) said in a statement,  “We have been here too many times before. We cannot continue down this path. America cannot stand silent. This was a man beaten by the power of the state. We must unite against this blatant disregard for human life, especially from those we trust with immense power and responsibility.… Let it serve as a call to action for every lawmaker in our nation at every level. The only way to bring light from darkness is to be united.”

There are forces at work today that tell us that learning about the Black experience is somehow wrong; something to avoid at all costs.  But, as White people, if we don’t learn about the Black experience in America today, how can we stand united with Black people when they face, repeatedly, violence at the hands of the state?

We need to learn about their history, lives and feelings and how those histories, lives and feelings connect with our own.

There are many great resources today that can help White people learn more about the Black experience.  One book I recommend is “How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi.  In it, he discusses how our culture is so infused with racism that even African Americans can succumb to racist ideas.

I also ask you to show your support for our Superintendent of Schools, Sean Gallagher, and those members of the School Committee who support teaching students about racial injustice in our world today.  They need your voice to counter those against teaching young people about racism in our country.  Those who prefer not to have those uncomfortable conversations.  Those who turn a blind eye to implicit bias in our society.

These are two small actions you can take as we work towards eliminating racism.  They will bring no comfort to the Nichols family.  But maybe, if more and more of us can learn how to stand united with Black members of our community, our Commonwealth and our country, we can create a society in which Black men and women no longer need to live in fear and no longer have to suffer the consequences of racism.

John Feehan

Executive Director

YWCA Greater Newburyport

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