Kilton Library Discussion Tackles Issue of Systemic Racism – Vermont News

Kilton Library Discussion Tackles Issue of Systemic Racism – Vermont News

West Lebanon — What does systemic racism look like? What does it mean to be an ally for racial equality?

Organizers of a three-hour meeting Saturday afternoon at Kilton Public Library hoped participants would leave with a clearer answer to those questions. And to open up what can be a difficult discussion.

“We all have ‘-isms.’ We all have some work to do,” said panel speaker Mark Hughes, executive director of Justice for All, a Vermont nonprofit.

Earlier, he noted, “We need to be able to say, ‘oops’ and ‘ouch’ when we have these conversations.”

The event, Confronting Racism Around Us and Within Us, was sponsored by Upper Valley Young Liberals and the Twin State chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice. It attracted more than 150 people, far more than anticipated. Those who couldn’t sit, stood, with the crowd spilling out into the hallway.

“I’m blown away,” said Patricia Shine, one of four panel speakers. “This does not happen.”

They could thank “he who shall not be named” — President Donald Trump — for galvanizing people, she added, to laughter.

Much of Saturday’s conversation focused on racism and what it means to be an ally — someone who recognizes the privilege he or she receives based on factors such as gender, class, race or sexual identity, and works to dismantle that inequality. It’s a job that may require homework.

A Q&A included questions from the audience, some of which were written on slips of paper and dropped into a basket. Given the political situation, what can we do to lift up our more vulnerable? someone wrote.

“Maybe the first step is to look at your own…

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