Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Now is the time to stop denying that racism exists

As our community and country wrestle with individual and systemic racism, it is critical for each white Vermonter to acknowledge the racism within ourselves and the ways we benefit from it each day while this same system brutally murders and denies resources and equity to Black, Brown and Indigenous Vermonters. I have dug into racial justice for years and I am still racist. As Dr. Ibram X. Kendi explained, “The heartbeat of racism is denial. By contrast, the heartbeat of anti-racism is confession, admission and vulnerability.”
I was deeply disappointed to see very few white leaders in our community publicly acknowledge the racism within themselves and the institutions they lead. Chief Hanley’s comment last week reinforces this truth when he said, “I reject completely the notion that Middlebury PD engages in systemic racism and I’m not going to engage in a debate about it.” This statement alone is what systemic racism looks like in Vermont. Without acknowledging our institutions are racist, we will never dismantle them. If you are a white Addison County superintendent, principal, chief of police, state legislator or business owner and question whether the institution you lead is racist, the answer is a resounding “yes.” If you don’t understand why, I implore you to invite Black, Brown and Indigenous community members to be paid consultants answering this question in a format facilitated by a person they identify as an ally. 
We can all do better and now is the time to stop denying racism within our communities’ powerful institutions.
Deirdre Kelly
Lincoln

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