Letter to the editor: Vermont must do more to prevent racial harassment

On Monday, Jan. 15, we attended the press conference in Bennington, where Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan announced that no charges would be filed against anyone for the racial harassment that led to the resignation of State Representative Kiah Morris.
We traveled two hours to Bennington to support Representative Morris, who was Vermont’s only Black female legislator until racist threats, online and in her community, drove her from office.
Our current laws are shamefully inadequate to protect people of color in our state. Black women are especially vulnerable due to the intersection of gender and racially based violence. We must insist that our legislators address this inadequacy in our legal system, so that no one else has to endure the fear and trauma that Representative Morris and her family have experienced.
White Vermonters, we beg you to take this personally. If you are a person of conscience, particularly one who identifies as Liberal or Progressive, you may agree with us that racism is a problem in society, but not yet acknowledge that it is YOUR problem. It is our problem. We must center and uplift the voices of our neighbors of color who face discrimination every day in our communities. Everyone deserves to be safe. Everyone deserves to be free from threats, harassment, and violence.
Please contact your legislators and ask what they are doing to ensure that Vermonters of color, be they public officials or private citizens, have the same rights to safety and the pursuit of happiness that white Vermonters enjoy.
Finally, while we both serve on the board of WomenSafe, where we advocate against gender based violence, we write this as private citizens. We know that none of us is free until all of us are free. The roots of racism and misogyny are deep and entwined, and they affect all of us. Every single one of us has a part to play, as we work to build a better world for the ones who come after us. To our sisters of color in Vermont: we vow to do better. You deserve better. We will not rest until you have what you deserve.
Joanna Colwell
Amy Mason

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