The DEI Commission found something they didn’t expect in their recent survey of residents’ perception of the town – a decided feeling among all groups that Concord has a bit of a classism issue.
“It jumps out as a finding,” DEI Commission member Stephanie Chrobak said.
The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission conducted the survey between November 2022 and March 2023, receiving 626 responses. The results were unveiled about a week before the Sunday, April 30 Town Meeting, when residents will vote on a citizen petition calling for the creation of a DEI officer.
While conflict due to socio-economic status was a rogue finding, member Jimi Two Feathers noted there is a history of classism in Concord based on finances, jobs and family history. It can crop up whether it’s people who worry about neighborhood noise, a bias against affordable housing or even the pictures of residents holding up copies of The Concord Bridge while on vacation.
Overall, the survey found 60 percent of respondents believe Concord is doing well or very well at creating a welcoming community vs. 20 percent of people who say it is doing poorly. The satisfaction level is slightly lower among people who identified themselves as minorities.
Between 62.4-66 percent of respondents mentioned having witnessed or experienced at least one type of discrimination in Concord. Minorities reported more discrimination based on class, race and color. Non-minorities reported the main incidents of discrimination as based on class, age and race.
Among those who reported incidents of discrimination, 72 percent said they have witnessed more than one type. Respondents who identified as minorities reported observing and experiencing more discrimination.
Almost 20 percent of respondents reported having received unfair treatment from a town office.
The best ranked initiative was to hire a diversity officer, which appears as Article 10 on the Town Meeting warrant. The article calls for the town to urge the Select Board to ask the Town Manager to expedite the hiring of a full-time director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, as requested by the DEI Commission.
Other suggestions in the survey included cross-cultural celebrations in schools and community; multicultural holidays and celebrations; police department training; an affordable housing policy; and community awareness events such as block parties, community action forums and affinity clubs.
Among the survey respondents, 56.6 percent were women, 14.2 percent were single mothers, 19.2 percent were racial minorities, 41.1 percent were ethnic minorities, 9 percent were non-native speakers, 25 percent were religious, 2.7 percent had an income under $50,000, 22.2 percent had a disability, 9.95 percent identified as LGBTQ.