Support Racial Justice in VT

SUPPORT RACIAL JUSTICE IN VERMONT

CCP’s Racial Justice Discussion on March 21st resulted in three ways you can support Vermont’s BIPOC population.

  1. ACLU – Despite decades of efforts to curb police violence and address systemic racism, it is clear how much remains the same. Data consistently shows Vermont law enforcement stops, searches, and arrests Black and Brown people at disproportionate rates, and the number of Vermonters killed by police has increased over the last several decades, with 2019 being the deadliest to date. The ACLU and a diverse group of Vermont-based organizations have released this ten-part action plan for police reform in Vermont. We are calling on lawmakers to take bold action to limit the unchecked power of police and make much-needed investments in Vermont communities. And we are asking our supporters to make their voices heard. https://www.acluvt.org/en/plan-reimagine-policing-vermont (Ann N.)
  2. COVID Vaccines in Prisons – Governor Scott has not yet approved a large vaccination program for those in prison, despite the fact that prisons are breeding grounds for Covid infections because of close housing conditions. This puts many at risk of infection, and unnecessarily endangers the lives of both inmates and those who work with them. Under the Eighth Amendment to the constitution, inmates must be provided with access to timely and appropriate medical interventions to access, diagnose, treat and prevent health conditions. The risk of Covid would certainly meet this requirement. We urge you to write to the Governor to request he reverse his current opposition and provide the vaccine to all those who live or work in Vermont prisons immediately so that Vermont can meet the basic principles of correctional health care. For additional information and email addresses, please see “Covid Vaccines in Prisons“. (Ann O.)
  3. Stimulus Money Donation Ideas – Vermonters will be receiving additional stimulus checks, and some of us are in a financial position that allows us to use those checks to support needed causes in our community. Here are some suggestions from members of Session for worthy organizations if you are able to donate all or part of your stimulus money. We selected organizations that serve BIPOC Vermonters and reflect our discussions, resources list, and studies but hope this short list will stimulate your thinking. We encourage you to come up with your own ideas for groups and causes that need financial support. An updated list is available here: “Stimulus Checks“. (Virginia)

15 Black-Owned businesses where you can buy locally (Ann O.)
Black Heritage Trail of NH – (Elinore)
• Support BIPOC businesses by shopping at one of the businesses that are marked BIPOC OWNED on this list, https://loveburlington.org/ or check out this list, https://alliedvt.org/all (Virginia & Frank)
• House bill H.273 would create a fund to help BIPOC people buy land or a home, since such a small percentage of that population in Vermont are homeowners. The fund would be overseen by the people that it would benefit. You can learn more about the bill here or from this VT Digger article, (Virginia)
• VIA/Racial Justice Alliance – CCP has formed a small group of interested people who are working with Vermont Interfaith Action (VIA), First Congregational Church, College Street Congregational Church, First Unitarian Universalist Society of Burlington, and All Souls Interfaith Gathering. Members of all congregations have identified two major issues: Public Safety and Economic Empowerment – business and housing. We are working with Mark Hughes of the Racial Justice Alliance to address these areas of particular concern. (Mary Beth)
• IPL presented an online film about clean air called “Unbreathable”. recommended by VTIPL (Vermont Interfaith Power and Light). (Ron)
• VBSR (Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility) held a conference on September 22nd and 80% of those attending signed up for workshops regarding racial justice issues in the workplace. The organization will be working with 12 local organizations on these concerns – spaces for such training filled quickly. The business community is taking recent racism/white privilege concerns seriously in VT. (Frank)
• Battery Park Protests/Racial Justice Alliance – In response to the ongoing Battery Park protests, Marjorie reported meeting with the Burlington VIA Clergy Caucus to speak with Mark Hughes of New Alpha Church and the Racial Justice Alliance in Burlington. He reported that several serious efforts for change regarding racial injustice are underway in Burlington but that the “movement building” effort to protest police behavior in Burlington is complex to resolve. VIA Clergy Caucus will continue to meet with Rev. Debbie Ingram.
• Support Tabitha Moore, head of Vermont NAACP, who was physically and verbally assaulted by a neighbor. Because she and her children no longer feel safe in their home, she needs help with moving expenses. Frank suggests supporting Tabitha by making a financial contribution through CCP and by joining the Rutland NAACP. Virginia echoes this support and added that she and Tabitha share a sisterhood because they are both graduates of Wells College.
• Valerie spoke about information she and other Winooski residents received from the school district concerning student, administration, and school board involvement as they all become aware of the student experiences of racism within the school setting. All are taking it seriously including much student involvement and discussion at school. She is impressed with the thoughtful and determined involvement of the students.
• Several people mentioned that we should be aware of President Trump’s efforts to shut down racial justice/white privilege education in schools, businesses, and organizations funded by the government.
• Visit the “Stopping Stones” in front of Ski Rack that commemorate the history of slavery in Vermont. Video of the commemoration may soon be available. (Sue)
• Participate in the weekly Silent Vigil outside St. Paul’s each Sunday from 1-1:30 pm. Masks and social distancing are in practice. Bring a non-perishable food item. (Ron and Joy McGarvey participate frequently)
• Sign the Faith in Action Declaration: Faith in Action White Faith Leaders’ Declaration
• Consult comprehensive resources on how to work for change. Two excellent resources are: Justice in June and 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice
• Support black businesses. Find them on We Buy Black.
• Donate to organizations working for change. Two possibilities include: Southern Poverty Law Center and Bryan Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative
• Join local organizations working for change. Ann Naumann is working in Richmond and Franklin County for Justice and Equity are two opportunities.
• Visit the Peace and Justice Center for resources (Frank recommends)