Investigation continues into Chilmark camp incident

Two white boys reportedly placed a strap around an African American boy’s neck.

Select board member Warren Doty reads a statement about the camp incident in Chilmark. -Rich Saltzberg

Updated Aug. 3

The Chilmark select board held an emergency meeting Tuesday afternoon to strongly admonish an incident that occurred at a summer camp at the Chilmark Community Center.

In an email blast sent out Monday morning to members of the camp community, Jeff Herman, president of the Chilmark Town Affairs Council (which oversees the camp), informed them about an apparent racial incident that occurred on Thursday, July 29, in which “two white boys aged 8 and 9 placed a strap from one of the tents around the neck of an 8 year old African-American boy in their group.”

Both the camp and the Martha’s Vineyard Chapter of the NAACP are investigating the incident.

Messages left for Herman and vice president and treasurer of the council, Betty Frank-Bailey, were not returned over the past two days. At the community center on Tuesday, there were several young adults outside of an office, at a folding table, who took a reporter’s number.

On Tuesday the Chilmark select board held an emergency meeting to approve and issue a statement about the incident, which occurred inside the town-owned community center.

During the meeting, select board member Warren Doty read a statement that the board approved in a 2-0 vote for dissemination. Board chair James Malkin was not in attendance. “As a community we abhor violence or discrimination of any kind,” Doty said. “We are deeply troubled by the incident involving children ages 8 and 9 which occurred on July 29 at the summer camp run by the Chilmark community center, a private 501 (c)(3) on town-owned land.”

Doty said that the community center is undertaking an investigation, and “based on their long history of running a successful summer program, we have confidence that the investigation will be thorough and fair.”

Until the investigation is complete, Doty said the select board is not in a position to assess whether the incident was a “safe play” issue or a racial issue.

Either way, the statement denounces the incident as unacceptable behavior.

“The town will respond appropriately once we review the results of the investigation,” Doty said.

People were outside the camp on Tuesday morning holding signs in response to the incident, Chilmark town administrator Tim Carroll told The Times. 

Jane Slater, chair of Chilmark’s historic commission and a member of the parks and recreation committee, was one of three people with signs, she told The Times.

Slater, who is 89, was joined by Jane Neuman and Diane Smith.

“We’re just three old ladies from Chilmark who got upset over what’s going on,” Slater said.

Slater said her sign read: “Close the CCC now”

Slater described the sign as a call for accountability, which she said was lacking.

“We read Jeff Herman’s letter and that’s what put us over the edge,” Slater said.

Among other things, Slater said she didn’t understand why information was not provided to the town “quicker” with “clearer” details.

The email signed by Herman on Monday states: “Although there was an abrasion on the boy’s neck left from the strap, thankfully the child was otherwise physically unharmed. That said, we are keenly aware that this event was traumatic.”

Herman wrote that such behavior will not be tolerated at the community center, and the council will take immediate action to investigate the incident and prevent similar incidents from happening. No additional details are provided in the statement, although Herman wrote that more information will be available later this month. Herman was not immediately available for comment.

“Let me reiterate — we remain committed to providing a safe and nurturing environment for all of your children,” the statement reads. 

After The Times alerted the MVNAACP of the incident, chapter president Arthur Hardy-Doubleday sent a statement saying that he is going to have their legal redress committee launch an immediate investigation. “This event reminds us that while the Island may have a reputation as a racial utopia, we are far from it. Incidents like this cannot be ignored,” Hardy-Doubleday wrote. “Pending the result of the investigation, I would ask the children and their parents to be held accountable for this reprehensible event.”

In light of the incident, the MVNAACP is inviting the town of Chilmark to a dialogue to prevent future occurrences.

“I will have further comments pending the NAACP’s investigation,” Hardy-Doubleday wrote.

Chilmark Police Chief Jonathan Klaren said police have documented the incident, but have not yet launched any criminal investigation. “We are offering our assistance to the family of the alleged victim,” Klaren said.

Two concerned Chilmark parents who wished to remain anonymous reached out to The Times to say they were shocked and saddened to hear of the incident. “This could happen anywhere, but to see it so close to home was absolutely shocking. Everyone in the school community is very disheartened,” one of the parents said. The other parent noted that the camp is still in session at the community center, which she said is disturbing. “I think it sends a bad message, like ‘it happened but we are just going to move forward.’ I think the camp should be closed,” the parent said.

Updated to include statement issued by Chilmark select board. Reporter Rich Saltzberg contributed to this story.


  1. Can we all take a deep breath for just a minute? These are eight and nine year-old boys; let’s find out just what happened before we go skidding off the rails. It may have been racially motivated-or it may have been kids simply playing too rough. Closing the camp seems absolutely inane; how about taking the few days left to turn it into a teaching moment, about bullying, for one.

    • Putting a rope around a black child’s neck reminds me of lynchings, slavery and things the KKK do. It is a very specific act of violence. It suggests the aggressors come from racist homes where the boys heard “jokes” about this behavior. It’s not harmless roughhousing. It is a very specific racial act of violence and traumatic to all of us who understand the historical context in which this happened. I hope the families of those boys feel great shame, I would be horrified.

  2. Well said Dana! Investigate, determine and appropriate use that as a teaching moment… for all of us!

  3. I am aghast and sadly not surprised that this has happened . . . given the current atmosphere in the US these young boys (the one’s who strung a strap around the neck of an African American boy) learned this “prank” somewhere and it cannot be glossed over. Yes, this is a teaching moment for the two boys who initiated this and it is a traumatic event for the boy whose neck was strapped. None of this should be swept under the rug (no, I don’t hear anyone at the moment suggesting that it be) and . . . it reflects the world we live in currently. Again . . Sad and not surprised.

  4. I hope the parents of these boys let them know how reprehensible this behavior is…I hope they don’t pass it off as boys being boys…it’s how the parents react that will define how these boys feel about their behavior. If it isn’t nipped in the bud now we can never have a truly unprejudiced future.

  5. Totally agree with Dana and Ana that there’s no reason the camp should be closed. Why should every other child be punished because of the insensitive action of two other little kids. This is the perfect opportunity to discuss the history of African Americans in this country to help them understand
    how insensitive their actions were.

    • Two kids did not behave insensitively. They behaved abusively. Do you know how tightly or how hard you have to pull on a strap to leave an abrasion? Putting a strap around the neck of a child and leaving an abrasion is an act of abuse, no matter the age of the abuser(s). Insensitive is when you call an act of blatant abuse “insensitive”. And I’m being polite about your choice of words.

  6. I fear the problem with the optimism to turn this incident into a “teaching moment” is that we know from the national discourse, minds are made up, no ears are listening to the “teacher”.
    Despite incontrovertible evidence, that was not MAGA supporters you witnessed but BLM dressed up in MAGA gear.
    When 71 million pairs of ears close at the behest of a President who promoted such delusional thinking, I am glad you have that optimism for the 9 year olds. I do not.

  7. I hope these 2 boys who put the strap around the other kids neck are evicted from camp and have a teaching moment from someone who is African American.

  8. Boy this doesn’t surprised me at all it just shows me that racism is still taught no doubt they learned it at home where else it’s was going on when i was younger and still is i went through it and many of my friends did to and still are damn shame

  9. As someone who was bullied and humiliated by other campers as a child, I ask “where were the grownups?” This is not a case for sensitivity training. This deserves meaningful punishment.

  10. Let’s not center whiteness right now with this “teachable” moment that other’s are describing above. A young child of color attended a camp where they should have felt safe in their community to learn and thrive and grow. Intergenerational trauma is real. Racism today is real and makes the US a dangerous place to live for POC at every age. What this child learned in their core is that they should be afraid of white people, even spaces designed for children are not safe, and they need to be constantly vigilant against whiteness and the white fragility in these comments above. This is the kind of event that leaves a child with PTSD and shapes how they view their entire world going forward. Calling it “roughhousing” or a “teachable moment” focusing on the white boys is racism in action, lessening the impact for white people so they can sleep at night despite the horrendous thing they have just done. Yes. Shut down the camp. Send the message that this is so unacceptable that the camp is not a safe space for children until they can do a thorough review of the event and ensure with staff training and better supervision that incidents like this will never, ever, happen again under their watch.

  11. One day my nine year-old son (now 31), came home from school to tell me that a playmate had called him n****r on the playground. As I prepared to head out to deal with this, I found the horrified and ashamed mother on my doorstep, with her son in tow. She had been alerted to what happened, and immediately brought the boy over to apologize. The apology was accepted, a brief discussion was had, and we moved on. I explained to my son my history in relation to his experience, and the history of this country. Then we went outside, and played catch. The boys went on to be friends through high school. My son now has faint, if any, memory of the event, although I do, occasionally remind him of it. S**t happens in life; it’s how we deal with it that matters.
    And as for Mr. Kozak’s lack of optimism: hey man, I’m a world-class pessimist, but I know nine-year-olds, having raised four of them.

  12. The week the song Charlie Brown hit the airwaves, the Brown family moved into my all white harbor town.
    Charlie was around my age, 12, and back then, it was normal for boys to scuffle, a stupid ‘fifties ritual.
    In the evenly matched contest, names were called. I called him a n****r.
    Turned out the Browns had become members of our church. Charlie’s mother talked with mine.
    My mother explained to me that all the other curse words were in play, but n****r insulted Charlie’s being. It was hitting below the belt.
    That made sense to me.
    I understood why it was wrong and the explanation touched my compassion.
    If I had been punished I might have resented Charlie. As it was, Charlie and I became friends.
    I was twelve and was just parroting. I was a child and needed to be taught. My father, whom I loved, was a racist, my mother was not. I needed guidance and Charlie’s mother’s and my mother’s wisdom changed my trajectory.
    That’s what teaching moments do.
    Instead of being punished, I was transformed from an ignorant boy to a protector.
    Because adults cared about both of us boys.
    I am solidly in Dana’s camp.

    • Seriously? This goes far beyond vile slurs. A child could be killed or catastrophically injured from this kind of “play”, and in barely no time at all. Heaven forbid two children behaving violently have to deal with consequences and punishment. This is always the way. Always. Let’s worry about the potential resentment of those responsible instead of the feelings of the person on the receiving end of the act. The Charlies of the world are treated as stepping stones in the personal growth tales of others. Maybe the lesson should be, “You do not get to feel resentful or have those feelings honored when you violate another person’s space and safety.” Not every emotion is valid or fair. Why reinforce otherwise?

      Nine is not that young. It is well beyond the age where a kid should understand, at least somewhat, why this is insanely dangerous, cruel, and stupid. Sometimes advocating for “teaching moments” just puts vulnerable kids in more danger if the message is so soft as to coddle them.

  13. Amanda Letts – 100% spot on .
    Thank you for your words and sentiments .
    As a mother of two bi-racial children , I have heard their experiences through out their childhood on Martha’s Vineyard . In summer camps and public school. And like Dana , I remember them all .
    While our country rejects curriculum like the 1619 project , ( please google ) we are failing to educate and inform ALL CHILDREN to the history and literal foundation of racism in the good ole USA. And while we preach spreading “democracy “ , around the world, we have neglected to face our own shame . We learn more about the Holocaust in Germany than the 300 years of slavery , bondage and implicit bias that built this nation. Our Caste system is real and it starts in our schools. This incident at the CCC is not an isolated incident . It is a reminder of the work we are NOT doing for our future , our children.

  14. I think it’s really easy to talk about “teachable moments” when it’s not you or your child who was harmed. This is not normal play. Not for any age.

  15. I’m with Dana.

    Closing a whole summer camp because of one incident involving two specific children, no matter how reprehensible, looks to me like collective punishment.

    • The incident involved THREE specific children. It’s no slip when white people forget about the victim and don’t include him in seeking answers.

      Heaven forbid that uninvolved white children should bear any consequences of racist behavior. There are very few POC at the camp. The best “teachable moment” from this would be to see that racism and the systemic racism displayed here impact everyone. Everyone suffers. Racism and the follow-up systemic racism affects us all. There are consequences. Yes, close the whole summer camp.

  16. I agree with Dana. I do want to hear from all the boys (honestly) and what they were doing. Was it playing? Was it bullying? Do the white kids understand the repercussions of their actions? Are they sorry? Can all understand, forgive, learn and practice new behaviors moving ahead?

  17. In light of everything that has been going on in the world I’m sure even 7-9 KNOW this type of behavior is inappropriate in any circumstance, with that said we should be questioning what these children parents are teaching them to make them think this is ok! Are the parents fit guardians of these children, if they’re teaching them this is ok at 7&8 what will they believe is ok at 18 or 28? The department of children and families should also be in on this investigation to protect the best interest of the children!

  18. I can’t believe that ANYONE would think this vile racist incident is anything but what it is.
    Were I the parents of the kids who did this I would be ashamed of them and of myself for not teaching them how to be decent human beings.

  19. Dana N, I appreciate your call for calm and perspective. It is a healthy inclination and you sound like a nice person. The story about your own child is a good one. It seems both children had loving, responsible parents shepherding them through an ugly incident. But I think you’re wrong to suggest that your personal experience, as pleased with it as you may be, is some paradigm for dealing with any racial incident. I don’t think you could have known what your preferred response would be before looking that mom and her child in the eye. I think you had a right to that moment of personal discernment.

    Until we know more, I say we center our calm, our smarts, our circumspection in this particular moment on how to better and best protect our black boys and girls. Let’s sit for a moment and try to envision…try our best to feel ourselves the terror, rage, and betrayal you would feel as a mom looking upon an abrasion around your son’s neck that came from a child-made noose. It would be hard for me to look upon a neck wound on my child caused by the wind—much less actual children possibly inspired by some of the cruelest hate on this planet. Sit with it. And then sure, let’s be calm. Let’s have compassion for everyone involved. But do not talk yourself out of making the abused child the center of a plan to move forward.

    In your calm, it may also be worth considering that if there were a bit more disruption and noise when a white child tries out the N word on a Black one, and he/she were not able to get away with it in private silos with dignity in tact, the lesson would not need to be taught one protected, edified white child at a time. If you center the needs of the victim and future victims, you make the statement as loud as possible. You stop the class. You close the camp. You teach the hard lesson, not the deflecting one. I think we all have childhood stories of lessons that were learned by fire and others that were learned under more tepid circumstances. We all prefer the lessons in cooler waters. But when the lesson involves dangerous, life-threatening harm to others and/or dehumanization is involved, the matter is urgent and the water should be hot. edification of the child doing harm is a desirable outcome, but it should never be leveled with or prioritized over protecting present and future victims.

    A comparison: If the camp, through no fault of its own and simple bad luck, had been the scene of a sexual predator’s attack on a child-would anyone question whether the camp should be closed? Would it not feel assuring and necessary for all things to be halted, carefully investigated and learned from until we could come as close as possible to weeding out any possibility of a reoccurrence? Visceral disgust would likely make that palatable. Sheer terror and concern for the victims and future victims would make it feel necessary. It’s a lack of disgust, terror, and concern that does not lead some to that conclusion here.
    Dana T.

    • Beautifully put, Dana.

      “But when the lesson involves dangerous, life-threatening harm to others and/or dehumanization is involved, the matter is urgent and the water should be hot.”

      Yes. This can’t be overstated. As horrible as slurs are, the response required is different from a situation that has already escalated to this kind of violence. It only takes once to alter an innocent child’s life forever. Or end it. This cannot be about the children responsible and how they’re feeling.

      • Thank you, Katie, for all your comments. It’s so true. It takes but a moment to alter a child’s life forever.

    • I apologize for the lack of clarity if my comment made it appear that my suggestion was a “paradigm” of anything. It was one way, my way, of dealing with the issue with which I was presented; one that kept my son from feeling traumatized. And my son, the victim if you will, was my first priority. The other boy? His education was up to his parents. How much time was I expected to spend teaching white people how to behave? It’s now up to this young boy‘s parents to decide how to proceed, not the general public.
      There are several aspects of the situation that not everyone is quite aware of, and my feeling is that we need to have all the information we can possibly gather before we attack the problem. To me, Eugene‘s suggestion of calling social services is somewhere out near Saturn. Careful consideration, and having all the facts, is rarely a bad idea.
      As to the suggestions of closing the camp, it is my hope that CCC is taking the few days left of their season and spending it in discussion and introspection with those children old enough to gain from it. Possibly even involving those parents who can find the time, and see the importance, of such an endeavor.

      • My apologies too, Dana N. I thought you were presenting your experience as a model to follow here. In any case, I would not presume to judge how you handled your situation and am not suggesting that you abdicated any duty to educate the white child. I place no onus on the victim’s parents to navigate an optimal outcome for all parties, and hope they are given the space to prioritize their son as you rightfully did yours. I admire your poise in that moment. But surely community members who are generous enough to speak up in these matters are not out of place. I think that in the face of an undeniable and longstanding national propensity to prioritize the discomfort of white people and the discomfort of causing white people discomfort over swiftly, decisively, demonstrably re/addressing racism, we should be careful about calling for deep breaths and slow response in the face of egregious acts. That does not mean dispel ourselves of compassion or fact-finding. Not at all. But what’s to lose from these children having the memory of that time the pain and trauma a strap around a Black boy’s neck connoted was so unbearable and unacceptable for the grownups that camp shut down a few days early. What’s to lose? As you mention, many of these childhood memories are fleeting and hardly make it to adulthood. And all the remembrances from white people of the time they called someone a n****r and everyone being so understanding and mild may be examples of how ineffective such an approach has been for this and future victims. It’s too bad they didn’t have their camp closed down from someone else’s racist act so that they never got around to victimizing someone else by causing a kind of harm they were not interested in perpetrating.
        Again, I’m not against fact-finding or carefully gaining information. But recognize that delaying a response in the face of an egregious act has a cost and a long history of effectively impeding antiracism in this country. So we should be careful there too.
        Dana T.

      • I’m familiar with further details of this case and don’t see how they make it any better. It’s amazing to me how many keep repeating that this is a ‘teachable moment’ for all three boys when the lesson one boy learned is incredibly different from his peers.

  20. I am totally with Dana with the hope and conviction that this is a teachable moment for all-
    the two boys, their families, Chilmark CC staff, even us , who comment on this with varying opinions. I haven’t agreed with all the comments but feel strongly that such a dialogue is important. It appears as if this has struck a strong emotional chord within our community
    and the importance of being open to teachable moments is critical if we are to evolve.

    • We’re in the safety of our homes reading a story. A boy has abrasions from a strap. You can’t sum those two things up as lessons learned as if they’re remotely similar. His pain doesn’t belong to the crowd for analysis and dismissal. This is so incredibly condescending to the person actually experiencing it. People say they dislike violence and then act like it’s somehow more noble not to take a firm stand against it. There’s a lesson in everything. The lesson here should be, “You are absolutely not allowed to do this.”

  21. This is a case of a woman–Dana, who with her excellent powers of persuasion in this instance has perhaps convinced most of the solution to the problem. That is the real teaching moment. Thank you Dana.

  22. I can’t believe I’m commenting on a times article but I have a couple things I want to say. By calling this a “teachable moment” you are placing the emphasis on the white children in the situation. No black child’s safety should be collateral in white children learning a lesson. Independent of motivation we know a child of color was the victim of an attempted hanging by his white camp mates. This is an act that requires premeditation. Not an emotional attack. Our concerns right now should be with the victim, not the perpetrators. I am sure those claiming this is a “teachable moment” are well intentioned but I would like them to consider what the victim learned from this experience and how our words can impact his ability to heal and move forward.
    Additionally, the supervision was extremely lacking and the camp failed to keep this boy safe. With that in mind closing the camp is not a absurd suggestion. They allowed something truly horrific to take place.

  23. Not all of the facts are known. The black boy could have been the aggressor and the white boys could have been retaliating. Tired of every time something like this happens the race card is pulled out.

    • I really hope you are not saying that putting a strap around someone’s neck is an appropriate response to a child’s aggression. Where was the adult supervision? This camp should be closed without question.

  24. a horrifying event, for sure, and we can debate the appropriateness of “a teachable moment”, but for me, at least, there’s a silver lining. Many of us on the island celebrate the ethnic diversity and (mostly) liberal social culture and perhaps lull ourselves into believing that we’re “better” than most (mostly). This awful occurrence has us talking/discussing/rethinking. Not a bad thing – a reminder that racism is a discussion (amongst ourselves, with our children) that must be ongoing if we are ever to be truly equal.

  25. The camp looks like business as usual every time I drive by. This story has taught me:

    1. that counselors and their volunteer assistants are doing a lousy job. No one watching kids can stop a slur from coming out of a kid’s mouth. However, a counselor who’s charged with watching out for a limited number of kids but misses a small group of 3 doing something with a tent strap (that holds up/ties a tent, whether that strap was in use or lying around), is not doing their job. Every age group has their own counselor and assistant, there to protect and lead the group. That didn’t happen here.

    2. Systemic racism is alive and well in the comments and in the majority of reactions to a horrendous story about putting a strap around a youngster’s neck and doing enough to the child to cause abrasions to his neck and to his soul. We don’t know how the incident was stopped, who stopped it, and where this group of 3 was when the abuse occurred. But it occurred. And the camp is open as usual. No real consequences that impact everyone in the camp community. Wouldn’t want to ruin a white kid’s week of camp to prove that racism hurts everyone.

    3. Islanders who comment at this newspaper’s different stories display emotion, including incredible passion and compassion for a euthanized dog. This young man in this story though, experienced something traumatizing to himself, his parents and loved ones, and to a community that feels the pain of the victim, not sympathy for the perpetrators or the mostly white camp community. In the dog story, there’s actually an online call to boycott a vet’s office, with rage at the vet so intense it’s palpable. Not much rage at the camp here, though. The vet was doing their job as legally outlined. The camp was not.

    3. In another Chilmark story, except for one comment out of THREE, (count em, three) no one shows an ounce of outrage or compassion for the 14-15 year old victim of an alleged forcible rape, procuring and enticing a minor with alcohol, and several other nightmare charges against a local 30 year old (white) Chilmark man. I can only imagine the passionate mob of commenters if the criminally charged adult male did not grow up here, had a Brazilian name or was a POC, and was not part of the island that protects and defends its own, with little left over for those who aren’t part of this local, mostly white group. In fact, one of the three comments claims the alleged rapist in that story couldn’t have used force because he’s known the man since toddlerhood, suggesting that a minor child can legally consent to sex with a 30 year old. Not one person even thought to write a comment wondering what a 30 year old man is doing with a teenaged child and buying her alcohol.

    4. Unless you’re a dog, compassion for actual victims is limited here. If you’re a white person in Chilmark, public reaction and calls for punishment have their limits.

    The camp should be closed for the remaining days. What’s more teachable than proving racism hurts everyone? When racist acts hurt no one but the victim, that’s saying that racism, in essence, is okay.

    • Speaking of counting, there should be 5 points to my comment. I numbered them incorrectly.

    • Thanks, Jackie, for giving everyone solid points to consider. I had some of the same thoughts. As for teaching moments, yes, by all means, teach your kids. Have a heart-to-heart, inform them of the impact of racism and violence and that other people’s feelings matter. This is an important step. But sometimes, like now, that will not be the complete solution to a problem. And it should not be done in such a soft way that the actual victim is an afterthought.

      Some are acting like teaching moments exist as the did on The Brady Bunch. The dad comes in with the intention to impart wisdom and then it’s over, neatly buttoned up. In reality, kids are learning from us nonstop, even when we may not think they’re paying attention. Every tone and choice of words and emotion. If they see adults with a cavalier attitude towards a situation, they will absorb that lesson and not understand how serious this is.

      And if you teach them that they’re above consequences, even when they do someone harm, they will never learn to respect anyone as an equal. Lack of action only serves to undermine even a responsible verbal message. No, they won’t like facing those consequences. They’re not supposed to find it enjoyable. To let them off the hook is the tail wagging the dog.

      I hope the boys responsible are not allowed to return to any camp. Camp is a luxury, not a right. If you can’t play fair and help keep your fellow campers safe, stay home.

  26. I am not aware that there is, as yet, any evidence that this was a racial incident as opposed to the act of a disturbed child. To label it “racial” before investigation is irresponsible and inflammatory.

    • Sheila, an innocent child had a strap wrapped around his neck by two other children, not just one. Are we to assume that both children responsible are too disturbed to know any better? What are the odds?

  27. What is wrong with you people? Are entitled isanders really this blind to the systemic racism (and worse) that politely excuses the clear and blatantly racist abuse perpetrated by two 8-9 year old white children against an 8 year old Black child?

    While the powers-that-be debate whether a racial incident was a racial incident or should be dealt with as a “safe play” issue, (are you KIDDING me?), the camp, the staff, the town, and the responding community have dismally, pathetically, hurtfully failed this one child, his parents, and all of us. How do we respond? Not with love and support for the victim, but with a bland wish for teachable moments, a wait-and-see-uhtil-we-know-more, a search for possible excuses for the white boys, accusations that the victim may have deserved or instigated it, a worry that it’s “inflammatory” to see a racist incident as a racist incident, and with a glaring lack of awareness of the community’s systemic racism that makes my head spin:

    1. “I am not aware that there is, as yet, any evidence that this was a racial incident as opposed to the act of a disturbed child. To label it “racial” before investigation is irresponsible and inflammatory.”

    2. “When do Benjamin Crump and Rev. Sharptom arrive on our shores….”

    3. “The black boy could have been the aggressor and the white boys could have been retaliating. Tired of every time something like this happens the race card is pulled out.”

    4. “I do want to hear from all the boys (honestly) and what they were doing. Was it playing? Was it bullying? Do the white kids understand the repercussions of their actions? Are they sorry? Can all understand, forgive, learn and practice new behaviors moving ahead?”

    5. “…there’s no reason the camp should be closed. Why should every other child be punished because of the insensitive action of two other little kids. This is the perfect opportunity to discuss the history of African Americans in this country to help them understand
    how insensitive their actions were.”

    The abuse is called an act of “insensitivity,” and careful, caring, coddling, and cautiously approached attention is paid to the white abusers, leaving the victim and his family mostly out of the picture. The person writing this next comment even removes the fact that there were THREE children– the one who was abused, the victim, is ignored entirely:

    6. “Closing a whole summer camp because of one incident involving two specific children, no matter how reprehensible, looks to me like collective punishment.”

    I’m sure you’ve all read the pouring out of support and love for poor Fergus, the (apparentely) senselessly euthanized dog. Before all the facts are gathered in that case and any real conclusions of substance can be made, island support for the dog is nevertheless so heartfelt and 100% in agreement that there is a vigil scheduled. The community pours their heart out, eloquently and sincerely, in posts like this:

    “I stand for Fergus. I stand for Stella. I stand for all the innocent dogs in this world who rely upon us to teach them what they need to know in order to live among us as balanced, happy companions. This keeps everybody safe That’s what Love does. I stand for Love. 💖”

    But back to Chilmark. No love here in these comments. Not even much real and deserved anger at how this could have happened. Except for 3 women who stood with signs outside the camp, who the hell is standing for the Black child? Where’s the vigil? Where’s the consequence that is so swift and confident in its appropriateness that it is felt by everyone? Where’s the assurance that CCC is a safe environment when obviously it is not? Where’s the damn LOVE? That’s what I’d like to know. Camp is open and nothing is happening to stop the systemic racism that we are all so accustomed to, it’s like breathing for us. Business as usual here in Chilmark.

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