Here in Vermont we say their names: George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and too many others.
But here in Vermont some take false comfort that they lived and died elsewhere.
Here in Vermont we have one of the most disparate rates of incarceration for African Americans in the nation. Here in Vermont black and brown drivers are pulled over at higher rates than white drivers, and police are more likely to search their cars. Here in Vermont a black person is more likely to contract the coronavirus than a white person.
Leaders of color have fought for years, here in Vermont, for justice and equality–for the truth that black lives matter. It is time for all of us to recognize and support them, to lift up their hard work, and to join them. The required collection of race data during traffic stops, the establishment of an Executive Director of Racial Equity, the establishment of an ethnic studies curriculum, and the Report of the Racial Disparities in the Criminal and Juvenile System are examples of their hard-won achievements. I am grateful that my work in the Vermont Attorney General’s Office has allowed me to assist with some of them.
But serious racial disparities persist. Systemic racism has not been dismantled. We have much more work to do, including the passage of laws that would address police use of force, and that would help us understand how our court system—including the actions of prosecutors, judges, and defense attorneys—results in such a disparate rate of incarceration.
I commit to using my voice and my vote to support the leaders of color who are advancing racial justice in Vermont. It is time for the equal protection of the law to be a lived reality, not a failed promise.
We all must support the organizations and individuals here in Vermont who are leading this work. To learn more and take action, see the following list of organizations:
- Black Lives Matter Of Greater Burlington
- Black Lives Matter Vermont
- Community Voices for Immigrant Rights
- I am a Vermonter
- Justice For All
- Migrant Justice
- Peace & Justice Center
- Rutland Area NAACP
- Showing Up for Racial Justice – Burlington
- The Root Social Justice Center
- Vermont Ethnic Studies Coalition
- Vermont Human Rights Commission
- Vermont Learning for the Future: Equity in Education
- Vermont-NEA: Advancing Racial Equity in Schools
- Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity
- Vermont Racial Justice Alliance
- Windham County NAACP