Town provides funding for racial equity training 

BAR HARBOR Bar Harbor town officials have agreed to fund a request by the MDI Racial Equity Working Group (REWG) for town staff to participate in a two-day virtual workshop in January, led by the North Carolina-based Racial Equity Institute, about historical and structural racism. 

MDI REWG asked the town of Bar Harbor to pay to send a total of 19 participants, a mix of 14 town employees and councilors as well as an additional five community members, to the training. The cost is $400 per person. 

A motion to fund the $7,600 for all requested attendees passed unanimously at last week’s Town Council meeting.  

The group hopes the training will build a sense of awareness about the concerns addressed by many throughout the community during this summer’s racial reckoning and said that the one-of-a-kind education will help position MDI as a leader of diversity, equity and inclusion in Maine. 

Dave Feldman of the MDI Racial Equity Working Group said he hopes the entire council will have an opportunity to be taught by the Racial Equity Institute. The institute has more than 25 trainers who possess extensive multiracial, multi-ethnic and multi-generational backgrounds, working in a variety of fields.  

According to organizers, this will not be the average diversity or awareness training. It will take a deep look into the historical roots of racism in America. Participants will understand how both race and racism have been constructed in the United States, as well as how ideas about racism exist everywhere.  

The two 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. offerings of the seminar will take place on Jan. 12-13 and Jan. 1819 and will provide flexibility for everyone involved to attend.  

Town Council member Matt Hochman said he supported the training and was the first to speak about how the community was sheltered from ethnic diversity.  

“At a core, we are a pretty white community. Sometimes we don’t see some of the things that happen in the cities around us. I think this is something that’s very important to the community so I’m gonna go ahead and make the motion to approve,” he said. 

Having relocated from her hometown in south Florida, meeting guest Christine Hemphill, a member of the Coast Guard stationed locally, had some things to say about being a woman of color in Maine.  

“I think it’s important to have a conversation. Coming to Maine has been different for me. I’ve never been somewhere where most people didn’t look like me…people should be more open minded…when people are too comfortable, they don’t change,” she said. 

Ninah Rein

Ninah Rein

Writer at Mount Desert Islander
Ninah Rein, an MDI native, covers news and features in the Bar Harbor area. She is glad to be back in Maine after earning a bachelor's degree in San Diego from the University of California.

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