Promoting a welcoming community where everyone is valued, the Hudson Inclusion Alliance (HIA) is a nonpartisan group of local youth, parents, business owners and residents seeking to pursue equity and inclusion in the city. “Race is just one dimension of inclusion and is probably the most noticeable one,” HIA co-chair Kerry Reis says. “We are also having increased diversity in faith and orientation in Hudson.”
Focusing on addressing biased attitudes, Reis says they turn to the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Pyramid of Hate to address the difference of varying biased behaviors and how those could lead to life-threatening consequences for targeted individuals. Consisting of five levels: Biased attitudes, acts of bias, discrimination, bias-motivated violence and genocide, these sectors represent how the hate of genocide is built on a combination of accepted behaviors in society overtime.
“[Diversity and Inclusion] start by having a bias that is less about fear and more about curiosity,” Reis says about what an inclusive community looks like. “It is asking people about their stories and treating each other with human kindness to see each other as the beautiful human beings that we are.”
Though around for almost five years, it wasn’t until the tragedy of George Floyd when Reis noticed a stronger effort in binding resources together. Through the arts, the library, nonpartisan organization People for Change and the school system, Reis says there was stronger ability to build awareness. “As a group, we recognize that Hudson is a community like the rest of the world that has experienced rapid change,” she says. “There was a lot of pain in the community and people just wanted to have conversations.”
Creating a place for open dialogue, the HIA is home to organizing events and making resources more accessible to individuals. Through their monthly newsletters HIA features a variety of educational materials (suggested readings, listens, watches and anonymous personal stories featuring instances of inclusion, exclusion, justice and injustice in Hudson) and information on upcoming events (virtual speakers and discussions, and community dinners prior to COVID-19).
“We are trying to build a presence and we realize that we do not have to do everything, we just want to increase awareness to what is available,” Reis says. “The act of inclusion is a proactive one, it is not one of tolerating because that implies putting up with something, but inclusion means that I put out my hand, that you are welcome here and this is your home too.”