Cambridge novelist Celeste Ng weighs in on Groton welcome sign debate

Best-selling novelist and Cambridge resident Celeste Ng took to Twitter Friday night to weigh into the debate over a welcome message inscribed on stone markers in Groton.

Groton residents voted at Town Meeting Monday night to keep the words “All Are Welcome” on the roadside markers, after some residents complained that they allow for a “criminal element,” and open the door to “pedophiles” and “terrorists.” Others said the markers invoked sanctuary cities. Some residents asked the inscription to be changed to “Welcome to Groton,” or just “Welcome.”

Ng, a daughter of immigrants from Hong Kong whose recently published novel, Little Fires Everywhere,
touches on issues of race and class in her hometown of Shaker Heights, Ohio, said her husband had a coworker who attended the Groton meeting.

“Prepare yourself,” she wrote to her more than 32,000 followers, before publishing almost 20 more Tweets on the subject.

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Ng said a town meeting to discuss removing the words “All Are” from the marker was “the stupidest thing I’ve heard today, and I spent a LOT of time on Twitter.”

A request by some residents to vote by secret ballot instead of a voice vote also drew the author’s ire.

“MAYBE IF YOU AREN’T ‘COMFORTABLE’ expressing a racist view out loud you should think on that view some more?” she wrote.

To “be a decent human being and express that” is not a political act, Ng insisted.

Ng said her point was proved when she asked a 7-year-old to read the marker and explain what it would mean without the words “All Are.”

“‘Does that… mean that NOT everybody is welcome?’” the child said, according to Ng.

“Out of the mouth of babes,” she wrote.

Jacob Carozza can be reached at [email protected].