Race & Identity

Mourners lay flowers on a wall at the Botanical Gardens in Christchurch, New Zealand, Monday, March 18, 2019.
Vincent Thian / AP

Last month, the Addison Independent published a poem by Narges Anzali, a 13-year-old eighth grader who attends Middlebury Union Middle School. The poem is titled simply: "To All The People Who Hate Muslims."

LGBT people are typically depicted as city and coastal dwellers. And those who live in rural America are often characterized as people yearning to escape rural life for more acceptance in urban areas.

But a new study from the Movement Advancement Project, a think tank that advocates for LGBT equality, shatters that stereotype.

Take a look at a class roster at the University of Vermont. You'll see the usual stuff there — last name, student ID and class year. But you'll also see something else. Next to some names, there are pronouns: "he" or "she," but also the gender nonspecific "they" or "ze."

They may seem like a few more words on paper, but for some students, like Jeane Robles, having pronouns on the roster means a lot.

Emily Alfin Johnson / VPR file

As a Latina Vermonter, I can relate to the super visibility Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has attracted since she became a congresswoman. The awkward images, memes and constant coverage suggest that her youth, beauty, intelligence, and perhaps most of all, her ethnicity, are the wrong combination for the media. Some of the more benign insults compare her to “an adorable 5-year old who needs to shut up,” or call her disrespectful nicknames like “o’socialist” and “o’crazy o.”

The Rev. Dr. Marisa Laviola preaches at the United Community Church of Morrisville. The church recently celebrated its first anniversary, after two neighboring churches combined into one.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

Vermont consistently ranks among the least religious states in the country. In Lamoille County, churches are consolidating in an effort to stay relevant.

As marijuana becomes legal around the country, blacks and Latinos are often left out of new business opportunities. Advocates say people of color are often reluctant to join the growing legal marijuana economy because they were targeted far more often than whites during the war on drugs. Studies show members of such communities were arrested and jailed for illegal marijuana use far more often than whites.

The January 2017 women's march in Montpelier was followed by what organizers called a Unity Rally on the steps of the Statehouse. The march addressed issues like racism and civil rights.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

The Vermont Human Rights Commission is a state agency whose sole mission is to protect and preserve the human rights of Vermonters. The small agency—just three investigators, an executive director and an executive assistant—works on discrimination in housing, state government, employment and in public spaces like schools and restaurants. Now the Commission's new executive director is pledging to take a more proactive approach to fighting discrimination. 

Courtesy of UVM

Growing up in the fifties in Morrisville at People’s Academy, our spring event was 'Kake Walk' - a parody of a racist amusement staged by slaves for their owners. The owners, king and queen of Kake Walk, sat in large chairs and watched as slaves high-stepped towards them in pairs with their arms pitched up and back. The grand prize for the highest steppers was a kind of “plantation cake.” Hence the name Kake Walk for an event that persisted in Vermont in my childhood and at UVM until 1969.

Four sixth-graders stand in a row looking at the camera
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

A controversial exhibit at the Champlain Valley Fair has lawmakers contemplating new restrictions on “the display of individuals for money.”

Courtesy of UVM

Known as Kake Walk, one of the highlights of the campus social calendar, it’s been described as “a standard act in minstrel theatre, originated on plantations as a competition among slaves” and UVM now has a digital collection of 231 items documenting it that date from 1895 onward.

Can the Holocaust be funny? That's the premise of The Last Laugh, a documentary film that features Holocaust survivors, as well as Jewish comedians, trying to answer that question. It's being screened this weekend at the University of Vermont, followed by a panel discussion with some of the filmmakers.

Jose Luis Magana / AP

I’m a young, black, cis-gendered man, and when it comes to the issues that impact Black men every day I want to claim a place at the table, too.

A black and white photograph of a woman laying on a bed in a Maine cabin.
Donna Gottschalk

Donna Gottschalk, who now lives on a farm in Victory, documented the LGBTQ scene in New York and San Francisco in the 1960s and '70s. Her photos — some of which have never been displayed publicly — are featured in a solo exhibition called “Brave, Beautiful Outlaws” at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York City.

We're talking about racism in Vermont with a panel sharing their thoughts and experiences.
FotografiaBasica / iStock

Former State Rep. Kiah Morris reported a long campaign of racist harassment directed at her and her family. It's put a spotlight on the issue of racism in Vermont. We're hearing from a panel of Vermonters to talk about their experiences and thoughts on racism in our state.

Closeup of crowd in winter gear gathered in front of the Statehouse in Montpelier for the 2019 Women's March rally.
Bayla Metzger / VPR

A large crowd gathered on the lawn in front of the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier on Saturday for a Women’s March rally. The event was held in solidarity with marches around the country, in cities including Washington, D.C., New York and San Francisco.

Attorney General TJ Donovan announced the results of the investigation into the alleged racial harassment of former state Rep.  Kiah Morris on Januart 14, 2019.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan has released findings on the alleged racial harassment of former state Rep. Kiah Morris, saying that Morris was a victim of harassment but there is not enough evidence to prosecute. We're talking with the attorney general about the investigation, his office's new bias incident reporting system and his other priorities in the coming year.

Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Attorney General TJ Donovan said Monday he will not file charges in the reported racial harassment of former State Rep. Kiah Morris, though he believes Morris and her family were victims.

Bob Kinzel / VPR

The Vermont Human Rights Commission saw a sharp increase in the number of cases it accepted due to discrimination based on race or national origin last year.

Anti-Semitic and racist graffiti on a hay storage barn at Andersonville Farm in Glover, Vermont.
Jasper Hill Farm

Reported hate crimes went up in Vermont last year according to the FBI. It was the second year the state saw an increase, but the exact number of hate crimes that take place in the state remains unclear.

Steffen Gillom, Sha'an Mouliert, Tabitha Pohl-Moore, Beverly Little Thunder and Wafic Faour, from left, are among the leaders of color asking Bernie Sanders to do a better job bringing social justice advocates from Vermont into his "progressive movement."
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Sen. Bernie Sanders has in many ways become the figurehead of the national progressive movement, but leaders of color in Vermont say his spotty track record on racial justice issues could undermine his status as its leader.

Now, those same advocates are trying to lay the groundwork for what they hope will be a more collaborative relationship with Sanders in the future.

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