Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: There are many ways to fight for racial justice

We would like to thank the estimated 375 fellow citizens who joined us on the Cross Street Bridge, on very short notice, for Saturday evening’s vigil for Black Lives. Collectively, we bore witness to the sadness and outrage we felt on hearing of the killing in Minneapolis of George Floyd, an unarmed African American in the custody of four police officers. Thanks also to the Town of Middlebury for its rapid positive response to our request for a permit to organize this demonstration. And we are grateful Middlebury College did not interfere with our use of College Park despite the failure of our good faith effort to secure on short notice the particular proof of insurance coverage its policies require.
Mr. Floyd’s murder is just the latest reminder that all Americans, including those in overwhelmingly white Addison County, live in a society thoroughly poisoned by centuries of white racism. We all bear responsibility to build a more just world. To help our community work for justice after attending the demonstration, we brought fliers suggesting follow-up actions, but we quickly ran out of them as the crowd swamped our expectations. So, if you weren’t able to attend the vigil, or you didn’t get a flyer, here are some important things you can do:
•  Donate money to the Minnesota Freedom Fund, they are bailing people out of jail, paying legal fees, and working to support Minnesotans most impacted by police violence and racial injustice.
•  Join the Rutland Area NAACP and Middlebury SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice).
•  If you are white, commit to the lifelong work of dismantling ideas of white superiority that live inside all of us. The need for this work doesn’t mean we are bad or intentionally racist people, but it does require commitment to repeatedly engaging with painful truths about things we often take for granted or fail to see. Join an anti-racism book group, read books and listen to podcasts by anti-racist educators, especially Black voices.
Slavery built the wealth of the United States, and the prosperity of New England. The more deeply we Vermonters understand this, the more we will look for ways to repair the historic and modern damage still flowing from this grave injury to our collective humanity. Middlebury SURJ exists to help all of us on this path.  
Joanna Colwell
Middlebury Showing Up for Racial Justice
Rev. Barnaby Feder
Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Society

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