Video in Chilmark tennis dispute taken down

From the video: A Long Talk speaks at the community center.

A video released ahead of an anticipated vote over a Chilmark tennis bylaw amendment has been disavowed by the two groups on either side of the contentious issue.

The four-minute video — which has since been made unavailable — asks Chilmark residents to vote against a proposal at town meeting on April 23. 

The proposal would create a public committee to manage town-owned tennis courts at the Chilmark Community Center, and would transfer the management of these courts away from the nonprofit Chilmark Tennis Action Council (CTAC).

Jay Grossman, a co-founder of the Friends and Associates of Chilmark Tennis — the nonprofit supporting the bylaw change — condemned the video in a statement to the Times. 

This video is an attack on our community,” states Grossman. “It undermines the legitimate debate and respectful dialogue that should be taking place regarding the future of the Chilmark Community Center. There should be ramifications to the persons responsible for creating this shameful, despicable, and scurrilous piece that is not consonant with the healthy relations amongst Chilmark citizens.”

The video, titled “CCC Decision 2024,” has been posted to the ALongTalk2020 YouTube channel. The channel appears to belong to A Long Talk, an organization that offers an “anti-racism activation experience” to interested nonprofits, corporations, universities and other schools, often in the form of virtual educational sessions. A Long Talk has administered diversity training before in partnership with CTAC and the community center.

The video commends the community center for its values statement and work to promote diversity and inclusion since 2021. “This is not about tennis. It’s about progress,” the video says.

Suellen Lazarus, president of the Chilmark Tennis Action Council, says that the video was made by Kyle Williams, who is the Chief Empowerment Officer of A Long Talk, and not by CTAC.

“It’s come to our attention that a video is circulating made by Kyle Williams of A Long Talk,” said Lazarus in a statement to the Martha’s Vineyard Times. “Kyle runs a racial awareness program that several board members took individually. Kyle did CCC’s diversity training for counselors and staff in 2022 and 2023. Kyle also did a training program for the Chilmark community that CTAC co-sponsored with the town of Chilmark last summer. Kyle lives in D.C., but he does have many connections to the Vineyard and follows the Vineyard press. CTAC had nothing to do with the video. We did not commission it, we did not edit it, and we did not approve it. And we don’t approve of it.”

Lazarus also told the Times that CTAC was aware beforehand that A Long Talk was working on a video, but did not know what it would contain. “We learned a couple days before that it was being worked on. But we didn’t know when it was going out. And we didn’t know what it would say.”

Williams has since sent a Google document to the Chilmark community explaining why he created the video and why he took it down.

On Friday afternoon, two MV Times reporters went to various locations around Chilmark to see what people on the ground think about the issue.

Outside of the controversial tennis courts, many didn’t know enough to comment on the topic. 

But on the courts, a handful of residents had opinions on the matter.

“I think it’s unfortunate that the group that takes over in the summer and rents the property from the town has so much power and control with respect to what goes on here and that they are unwilling to listen to the community,” said Allison Simon of Chilmark. She said that in the last year and a half, ten CTAC board members have resigned.

All of the players shared the sentiment that there’s been no transparency between the tennis community and the CTAC leadership. 

“They seem to be seeking to corporatize the recreational opportunities that are going on here,  and it’s sad. It’s really sad,” said Simon. “It’s disheartening, and frankly, I almost cried about it today.”

Her comments were echoed by Steve Lewis of Chilmark. “When people speak up, they ignore them,” Lewis said of CTAC. “That’s the reason we’re proposing a different structure to manage this, because it will be appointed by the town, not a private organization. Our voices would be heard.”

“I remember being completely blown away by how much of an opportunity is created here for local kids growing up and finding themselves through tennis and through interacting with adults and kids of all ages,” he said. He added that he thinks CTAC is making it more difficult for kids to sign up.

Nikeya Tankard contributed to this report.


  1. Enough already of this “A Long Talk” racist views. We’re better than that nonsense as a community. We need to come together and not be subject to this one person’s agenda about race.

  2. How stupid does the Board President think we are? Does she expect us to believe that Kyle Williams just woke up today, a few days before the town meeting about removing tennis from CTAC oversight, and he just decided, without any influence from CTAC or their PR firm, to make a video with views he only could have gathered from the mouth of the Board President?
    I feel bad for all the other board members. Whatever mechanism exists for getting rid of the President now would be an appropriate time to execute it and to restore integrity and the faith of the community. I also resent that Board President, in stooping so low, cheapens the sincere work of the diversity, equity and inclusion movement with smear tactic theatrics.

  3. As a longtime, non-white member of the Chilmark tennis community, I am deeply troubled by this video. Characterizing the hundreds of us who wish to see a healthy culture at the CTAC where members and staff members are treated with basic respect as somehow stuck in reverse sets us all back.

    In fact, our beloved “instructor of choice” leads most inclusive tennis program I have ever experienced and I am confident that if you had spent the time getting to know him and the program he expertly and generously offers, you would feel similarly.

    I urge you (and everyone) to take the time to get to know us, speak with the 10 board members who have stepped down in recent months, and the multiple employees who have reported cases of harassment against the CTAC leadership. And I implore the CTAC leadership to stop dividing our community with mean spirited narratives and instead sit down at the table with us as we have been requesting for months. PS if you think anyone believes CTAC had nothing to do with this video…….nice try.

  4. That video is absurd blaming Chilmark Tennis for racism?.. Utterly ridiculous. If you can get through the first 3 minutes of this…. I’d like to know what “problematic behavior which is embodied by their instructor of choice” means … BTW its accompanied by an image of someone with a bag over their head which is a horrible image. What problematic behavior?

    If the “instructor of choice” is who I think they are referring to then this is an amazing person, who has given everything to make Chilmark tennis what it is today, donating time and energy to the program. He has created a thriving, inclusive, fun tennis community embracing everyone.

    It seems to me this is something personal and should not be at the detriment to the community.

    There’s a Q&A opportunity prior to the vote that’s not mentioned here … I urge anyone who has questions to attend the meeting at the CCC this SUNDAY April 21st at 11am. Lets get to the bottom of this and have transparency and collaboration instead of this ugly derision and division.

  5. Watched the video. I recall reading about that incident where a young Black boy at the CCC summer campus was subject to an act of what could be described as “suggestive lynching” at the hands of a pair of White boys. As I recall, it was the same summer that a pickup-truck driver yelled drive-by racial slurs at a pair of Black women in Menemsha. Not clear what the creator is trying to say about the “Friends” of Chilmark tennis, as far as this video is concerned: the timing seems clearly designed to indicate an element of racism in the bid to change the way Chilmark tennis is managed. That is what makes it divisive and, I would argue, undermines the integrity of the “aLongTalk2020” mission. As a former video producer myself, on a technical note I wonder if he obtained waivers from the people shown in the video while the audio voiceover seems to reference them in the related frames – am specifically referring to a well-known Select-human and a Chilmark teacher. Also: were the White kids involved in the racially charged incident at the CCC the children of someone involved with the new tennis group? As a White woman who read the autobiography of Malcolm X at 16, and who grew up listening to Stevie Wonder and Gil Scott-Heron, I consider myself an ally of the Black social justice cause generally. I thus understand the perspective of bringing “uncomfortable” truths to the attention of those who, due to their comfortable status as part of a racial majority, may not take the abusiveness of the incidents cited above seriously: it is called “lack of empathy.” Clearly, in the case of the CCC incident, Black members of the summer (and maybe year-round) community felt that the implications of what happened were lost on some Whites.
    But what is the link of this to the tennis issue? The plot of this story thickens, and a small community on a small island seems to now be subject to political imbroglios that seem to be about individual agendas by relative newcomers and/or Vineyard-adjacent people without a historical connection to – and knowledge of – the people who have lived here for decades or more.
    This is weird. It’s like the issue of tennis has been co-opted for purposes related to personal financial and/or political benefit. It’s like Eris, the Greek goddess of Strife (who seems to be the “It” girl in American society these days) throwing the Apple of Discord into an otherwise stable rural community.
    Demonizing people without knowing them is troubling. Using a local issue related to tennis-court use as a soap-box for social justice proclamations is – in this relatively “woke” person’s view – incompatible with reason.

  6. Haven’t played tennis in 40 years. Know nobody on either side of this equation.
    I’ve got “no skin” in this game.
    But that video is a despicable example of “playing the race card” and quite frankly paints A Long Talk in the most unflattering and disingenuous colors.
    A hit piece that should be universally discredited and denounced.

    • Agreed. That vid was taken “off the air.” Looks like message received.

    • Yup. And the guy yanked the vid, so I think he got the collective message.

  7. I find this video extremely one sided and accusatory. This tennis vote is about year round tennis in a community that needs it and benefits from it.. this video implies if you vote for community tennis you’re voting for a racist organization . That’s simply not true.

    Secondly, where did the video maker get the images of the CCC camp from? .. I’m assuming from CTAC . And did he get permission to use them? If so then why didn’t the CTAC ask to see the video and approve it before its release ? It doesn’t add up

    I know someone in this video who didn’t give permission and does not condone it. they dont want to speak out because they dont want to jeopardize their chances to come back and work at the CCC this summer.

    Get the FACT’s before you make any decision

    Come to the CCC Sunday April 21st at 11am and have an opportunity to ask questions before the vote.

    • Your comment aligns with mine as well. Really dumb for a video producer to fail to obtain waivers from people pictured, and on top of it to have audio voiceover content that indicates assumptions about them. The thing was yanked off the air, so clearly the message was received that creating and posting that video, without any apparent context or understanding about the Chilmark community was simply DUMB.

  8. As a former Board member of the Chilmark Town Affairs Council, it is heartbreaking that we have come to this point. This appalling video is the product of failed leadership at the CTAC. We must now ask the question, how best can the community express its will to replace that failed leadership? Her denials of participation in the video’s creation simply do not make sense. To date, under this current leadership, 11 board members have resigned from CTAC-with more planning to leave due to this video debacle. One cannot imagine a less community-oriented, coalition-building leader for such an important Town asset, and the current leadership must change. We cannot let this governance failure continue regardless of where you sit on the tennis or any town issue.

  9. Big surprise! The video is no longer available. Those who made it have taken it down, which is very telling.
    Let’s stay focused on the FACT’s
    If you need more information before the vote, there’s an opportunity to hear CTAC talk, and ask your questions on Sunday April 21st – Chilmark Community Center 11am .

  10. Disclaimer: I write this as someone who exclusively votes BLUE and is sick of the extremism. Chilmark, welcome to the flip side of so-called equity, diversity, inclusion–far left progressivism that won’t take no for an answer and will call you a racist if you disagree–you’re not racists. There is no satisfying them even when they win–a sad commentary on our society that has let such a small fraction of Americans have so much power–for now. We have all forgotten what real racism is and real equality and real diversity. This conclusion is inclusive the DEI movement. Hopefully Chilmark can sort the out. A first world problem, for sure, however.

  11. A divisive and antagonistic tactic was employed by the same off-island interests that brought us the “black party” controversy in Oak Bluffs? Who could have seen that coming?

    • Pretty much everyone here found your video unintelligent and disrespectful.
      Maybe you oughta start with an apology.

  12. Thank-you, Kyle. For those of you who don’t have the whole story (and there seem to be many), please take the time to read the above mentioned document. In particular, the references to Ms. Lapsley. In his rush to produce, Mr. Williams may have blundered a bit, but his intent is truth.

  13. My concern – as a racially aware Caucasian – is that a lawsuit that was threatened, after the racially troubling incident between the boys a few summers ago, resulted in pressure on the CTAC to hire someone from well outside the Chilmark community to “school the White people.” Mr. Williams’ intentions may have been “good,” but his video was a glaring demonstration of ignorance: which is too bad, because “wokeness” is already having a bad time of it these days, thanks to hyper-defensiveness and overreach that has fueled a backlash. How the saga reads from outside the hive of gnarliness: a knee-jerk reaction to that admittedly horrid situation with the kids led to to the entire community being painted with the brush of racism, providing a paid opportunity to shame the CCC into imposing racial awareness training on staff: which may have been overkill.
    I didn’t get this perspective from just anywhere: Mr. Williams’ video, posted on the broad public forum of YouTube – thus drawing all kinds of unhelpful and unfair attention to the small town I came of age in – generated a range of perceptions by many of us. Like someone, or someones, were made to fear legal consequences from the incident with the kids, and instead of the parents of said kids dealing with that, a magnifying glass was trained on Chilmark at large. There are more players involved in this kerfuffle than are readily apparent – and I don’t mean tennis players here. May the “adults” involved fess up to their reactions, overreactions, and take responsibility for manufacturing a social crisis that we are being asked to believe was based on purely good intentions.
    Skepticism is warranted, in my view, regardless of my affinity for multiracial peace and grooviness.

  14. Why has this become all about the video? The problem I see is a small group wants to make a town owned non profit community facility to a profit making facility. That seems like it would restrict residents that pay their taxes to use the courts to have to pay again for the use of the tennis courts. This in my humble opinion seems like a non issue…town property should not have a small private group decide the rules for town property!

  15. So many problems, war, starvation, homelessness, drug abuse, illegals, narrow roads, windmills, tennis…

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