More than year after nationwide momentum over George Floyd’s murder fueled its formation, New Gloucester United Against Racism has more than 100 members and is working to extend its reach in the community.

Laura Fralich, pictured here with her daughter Ada, rallies in support of Black Lives Matter and Dustin Ward’s election to the New Gloucester Select Board earlier this year. Contributed / Patti Mikkelsen

Although conversations among members have kept them motivated, the group doesn’t want to be just “preaching to the choir all the time,” organizer Cam Dufty said.

“We want to make sure we’re getting out into the community more,” Dufty said.

The group is hosting educational sessions for the community, run by the Portland nonprofit Cross Cultural Community Services. The first of three-part series, via Zoom last week, focused on structural racism and the process of becoming culturally aware. About 15 individuals were in attendance, Dufty said. Future sessions will discuss the history of race and oppression, Maine’s changing demographics and a culture of white supremacy and privilege.

People who live in mostly white communities can be reluctant to address racism as a problem, according to Regina Phillips, a co-founder of Cross Cultural Community Services, in an interview. However, the need to have discussions remains.

“People come into contact with an unfair system even if they aren’t around Black people,” Phillips said. “We believe a just society is a society where all people thrive.”

U.S. Census figures show that in 2020 Maine was the whitest state in the country, with a white population of 90.8% and Black and Hispanic populations of 1.9% and 2%, respectively.

Dufty said one of the main goals of New Gloucester United Against Racism is to “show up for people of color in our community.”

“People of color still need support,” she said. “If a person of color drives past a Black Lives Matter banner, the next banner they see might be a confederate flag. This shows there might still be issues of racism out here that are visible, and we’re out here being visible as well … We hope we can welcome people of all dimensions to New Gloucester.”

The group also is spreading its message in other ways. While operating a booth at the New Gloucester Community Fair in August, members had “some hard conversations and some really good conversations” with members of the public, Dufty said.

“We had people tell us that we’re ruining America,” Dufty said, though others were interested joining the group.

The group also recently partnered with New Gloucester Public Library to host speakers and a book club focused on amplifying the voices of people of color, and it holds monthly rallies around town.

“The power of this group is its ability to mobilize,” Dufty said, citing the effort to recall former New Gloucester Selectperson George Colby after he made a remark perceived to be racist at a Select Board meeting. Colby resigned during a meeting in February before the recall vote took place.

The remaining Cross Cultural Community Services sessions haven’t been scheduled yet, Dufty said, but she hopes people will join in.

“Some people are kind of burnt out on trying to find ways to take meaningful action, and this can be a nice revitalization of showing people that this is still a discussion,” she said.

New Gloucester’s first Black selectperson, Dustin Ward called the training a “wake-up call.”

“One of the biggest fears for individuals in regards to this conversation around racial issues is fear of getting it wrong, and then a subsequent desire to avoid the conversation altogether,” Ward said.

“Creating a place to mitigate those fears is helpful in order to grapple with one’s own racism.  Thus, the work of racial equity is paramount to continuing to see true change in our communities and to leave a lasting legacy of activism.”

New Gloucester United Against Racism holds monthly Zoom meetings. More information can be found at newglounited.com.

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