The ongoing campaign of racial hate directed at Kiah Morris and her family resulted in her deciding to withdraw her candidacy for House of Representatives last week. Racial hatred remains an issue in Vermont and across the nation. As ridiculous and unfortunate as this situation is, at least it shines a light on a reality that exists in the everyday lives of over 31,000 black and brown folks across the state. The other racism, which has a much more harmful global impact, is systemic racism. Black and brown people are being left out or left behind in the areas of housing, education, employment, health services, economic development and criminal justice every day. The final racism is political in nature and the edifice of policy violence. The current stream of racial inflammatory rhetoric and the administration’s decision to overtly run a campaign on it, is stoking the flames. The biggest threat the nation faces today is white silence, because with it comes complicit consent to escalation of overt hate, resulting in violence in our communities. With this silence, black and brown folks will continue to be locked up and locked out as white folks choose to look the other way, pretending to believe the age-old false claims of the inalienable rights of all men. With this silence, officials will be elected who, in turn, create policies with the intent of hurting black and brown people, but the majority of the folks impacted will once again be white folks (because while most black people are poor, most poor people are white). People of color pleaded with the neo-liberal progressive white folk to break the silence in 2016. Black and brown folks even comforted white people and welcomed them to the struggle on Nov. 9. What will it take for white people to come to understand that, if we are to save the heart of this nation, they must break their silence? Mark Hughes is executive director of  Justice For All of Montpelier.

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