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Mon Dec 3, 2018, 10:50 AM

Letter from the Rutland Area NAACP on Sanders Institute Multi-cultural forum

Vermont is known as a progressive safe haven. However, some of our citizens struggle to connect personal experience to this sentiment. The purpose of publicizing these feelings is not to throw shade at the national progressive movement that Senator Bernie Sanders is trying to foster, but to point out that Vermonters in marginalized positions- be they poor, disabled, LGBTQ, people of color, indigenous, immigrant or non-mainstream in other facets of identity, help to create this state and make it what it is, yet still, we find ourselves excluded from the movement. This is an awkward juxtaposition. To call out when we have been excluded invariably elicits an accusation of sabotage, selfishness, or saltiness. To ignore it is to relegate ourselves to invisibility, thus fortifying the very systemic inequity the progressive movement works to deconstruct. It is with this in mind that I write the following:

At 9:15 PM on November 19th, Windham Area NAACP President Steffen Gillom sent me a text with a link to the VT Digger article announcing Senator Sanders’ 3-day progressive event in Burlington that was planned for this past week, it was followed by the question, “Did you know about this?” My first response was excitement. A progressive agenda that promised to raise an intersectional approach to ending injustice and oppression? In our backyard? As I read the roster and saw the names of my own idols like Cornel West, my initial response grew into hope. We would finally be heard and seen here in Vermont! But, as I neared the end of the star-laden roster, I began to wonder. How many leaders from Vermont were invited to speak? I reviewed the list again and saw only the name of Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman. Okay. One. Then I wondered how many justice leaders from Vermont had been invited. Racial? None. Economic? None. LGBTQ? None. Immigrant rights? None. I read the article several times. Maybe I missed something? I thought progressive politics was about lifting the voices of common people. For a group that prides itself on grassroots organization, it seemed that this progressive event had forgotten its roots; the people of Vermont.

My heart began to sink as my curiosity grew. In his remarks, Senator Sanders said that this event was “not just to talk about economic issues, we’re here this weekend to be talking about racial and social justice. We’re here to be talking about ending, in all of its many and varied forms, institutional racism.”

How could Senator Sanders host what is supposed to be an intersectional, progressive event without inviting the very people whom he serves? If this is really about economic justice, where are the poor folks? If it is really about racial justice, why are there no local racial justice leaders? Chief Don Stevens of the Abenaki? Disability rights? Where is Justicia Migrante/Migrant Justice? I don’t see them on the list.

I had a hard time believing that Senator Sanders would overlook the very people he serves as people who could speak to the issues. I also know that the Senator’s people had no problem finding me to talk about race in Vermont the day before he met with NAACP President Derrick Johnson last May. But really, there are plenty of other leaders who could speak. Surely someone in Vermont had to have been invited and they just weren’t included in the article because, really. Who here compares to Danny Glover? So I took to social media and posted the article, tagging various justice leaders that I knew. No one knew about it. I asked groups like Rights and Democracy, who posted an article to advertise the event, if they would be speaking. I heard nothing. Even Kiah Morris, who was Vermont’s lone black woman in the legislature—that is, until the racist threats and harassment became so intolerable and intimidating that she not only had to withdraw from an uncontested race, but she stepped down from office just three months ago—was not invited.

I write this not to complain about the fact that none of us were invited; I write this to point out the hypocrisy of the situation. How do you say that you are a person of the people, how can you be “awoken”, in the words of Victor Lee Lewis, when you come home to Vermont to talk about justice and institutional oppression and don’t invite the very people you represent? In speaking with other folks, I learned that I am not the only one who has noticed this omission. We hope that we are missing something, but if we are not, this is a either a major oversight or just one more example of how institutional oppression looks, even among those who are progressive.

Respectfully,

Tabitha Pohl-Moore
President, Rutland Area Branch of the NAACP

Steffen Gillom
President, Windham County Branch of the NAACP

Amanda Garces
Founder, Vermont Coalition for Ethnic and Social Equity in Schools

Curtiss Reed, Jr.
Executive Director, Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity

Kiah Morris
Former State Representative

Katrina Battle
POC Caucus Coordinator, Black Lives Matter of Greater Burlington

Jabari Jones
Organizer, Black Lives Matter of Greater Burlington

Wafic Faour
Vermonters for Justice in Palestine
Member, BLM of Greater Burlington

Marita Canedo
Justicia Migrante/Migrant Justice

Shela Linton
Co-Coordinator BIPOC Caucus, Root Social Justice Center

Sha’an Mouliert
Co-Coordinator, I am Vermont Too

Mark Hughes
Exectutive Director, Justice for All

Beverly Little Thunder
Activist, founder of Kunsi Keya Tamakoce, Peace and Justice Board Member


https://www.facebook.com/naacprutland/posts/2253290184906966

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Arrow 46 replies Author Time Post
Reply Letter from the Rutland Area NAACP on Sanders Institute Multi-cultural forum (Original post)
ehrnst Dec 3 OP
Gothmog Dec 3 #1
George II Dec 3 #2
TexasTowelie Dec 3 #3
R B Garr Dec 4 #20
brush Dec 4 #26
WhiskeyGrinder Dec 3 #4
Name removed Dec 3 #5
Name removed Dec 3 #6
EffieBlack Dec 3 #7
Name removed Dec 3 #10
Hortensis Dec 3 #18
ehrnst Dec 3 #8
SidDithers Dec 3 #9
Tarheel_Dem Dec 3 #11
sheshe2 Dec 3 #12
Me. Dec 3 #13
JCanete Dec 3 #14
ehrnst Dec 3 #16
Cha Dec 3 #17
JCanete Dec 3 #19
ehrnst Dec 4 #21
peggysue2 Dec 4 #28
ehrnst Thursday #33
JCanete Thursday #36
ehrnst Thursday #38
George II Dec 4 #23
JCanete Dec 4 #24
George II Dec 4 #25
peggysue2 Dec 4 #29
George II Dec 4 #30
JCanete Thursday #37
ehrnst Thursday #40
ehrnst Thursday #35
ehrnst Thursday #39
JCanete Thursday #44
Docreed2003 Dec 4 #32
ehrnst Thursday #43
mcar Dec 3 #15
betsuni Dec 4 #22
Squinch Dec 4 #27
Croney Dec 4 #31
TomCADem Thursday #34
uponit7771 Thursday #41
ehrnst Thursday #42
Cha Friday #46
Cha Friday #45

Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Mon Dec 3, 2018, 10:52 AM

1. Thank you for posting this

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Mon Dec 3, 2018, 11:08 AM

2. There were a number of highly critical tweets over the weekend about this so-called "Gathering"....

...of progressives.

I wonder why it wasn't as diverse as it could have been.

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Mon Dec 3, 2018, 11:09 AM

3. Did the Democratic candidate for governor, Christine Hallquist, attend The Gathering?

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Response to TexasTowelie (Reply #3)

Tue Dec 4, 2018, 07:50 AM

20. Bingo! You would think Vermont issues would be a priority

especially a Democratic governor.

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Response to R B Garr (Reply #20)

Tue Dec 4, 2018, 02:44 PM

26. Nah, all about national celebrity and visibility. It's telling.

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Mon Dec 3, 2018, 11:20 AM

4. K&R for the voices that should be centered.

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)


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Response to Name removed (Reply #6)

Mon Dec 3, 2018, 11:40 AM

7. According to this letter, she wasn't invited

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Response to EffieBlack (Reply #7)


Response to EffieBlack (Reply #7)

Mon Dec 3, 2018, 05:49 PM

18. I'm late to this thread. "She's" not Stacey Abrams,

the real choice of a majority of Georgians for our governor, is she? Since she spreads a wide, progressive umbrella, I looked for her name and wondered what to think when I didn't see it.

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Response to Name removed (Reply #6)

Mon Dec 3, 2018, 11:41 AM

8. She was not invited.

Even Kiah Morris, who was Vermont’s lone black woman in the legislature—that is, until the racist threats and harassment became so intolerable and intimidating that she not only had to withdraw from an uncontested race, but she stepped down from office just three months ago—was not invited.

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Response to Name removed (Reply #6)

Mon Dec 3, 2018, 11:43 AM

9. They didn't...nt

Sid

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Mon Dec 3, 2018, 12:02 PM

11. Quelle Surprise!

NOT!

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Mon Dec 3, 2018, 01:03 PM

12. This just breaks my heart.

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Mon Dec 3, 2018, 02:03 PM

13. Wow

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Mon Dec 3, 2018, 02:19 PM

14. Good lord. He invited who he invited. Apparently Sanders people have had this activist speak

Last edited Mon Dec 3, 2018, 11:04 PM - Edit history (1)

before. she's not only going to have one event ever. He organized an event with very notable people that are well known across the country to bring awareness to these issues. And the problem is what now? That YOU wanted to bring awareness to these issues instead? Then do it. This wasn't a panel that was specifically about Vermont. It was about the nation as a whole. "What about the Vermont Culture?" rings a little more silly than "where's the multiculturalism!...." but then people already tried that one.

That the author had to parse this into the issue being, not that no lgbtq activists were invited, and not that no people of color were invited to speak on civil rights, but that none were from Vermont, and then to read into that that this is elitist oppression and hypocrisy is really strange to me.

Nor does Sanders have a pattern of only having big personalities speak at all of his forums and town halls. I've seen plenty where he's had local politicians and advocates on stage. This was one in a LOT. You can't make an argument about a trend in behavior based on one event. And you can't argue that attempting to speak truth to power and big money by using personalities with Big reach is somehow doing its bidding.


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Response to JCanete (Reply #14)

Mon Dec 3, 2018, 03:52 PM

16. Why don't you post that to the FB page where the statement is posted, and the authors can read your

critique.

Let us know how that goes.

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Response to ehrnst (Reply #16)

Mon Dec 3, 2018, 04:53 PM

17. ...

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Response to ehrnst (Reply #16)

Mon Dec 3, 2018, 11:01 PM

19. you're the one posting it here. I'm responding to it here. nt

Last edited Tue Dec 4, 2018, 12:03 AM - Edit history (1)

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Response to JCanete (Reply #19)

Tue Dec 4, 2018, 08:01 AM

21. I would think that the Rutland NAACP would welcome your explaining to them why they get it "wrong."

But I understand completely why you wouldn't want to share your clearly more accurate point of view on what is and isn't progressive with an activist group of people of color.

You wouldn't want them to feel embarassed when they realize that they just didn't really understand the truly expansive progressive politics of the Sanders Institute, and how "silly" you think they are to have expected the Sanders Institute to invited progressive groups from Vermont to a multicultural forum in Vermont.

Obviously neither you nor the Sanders Institute have anything to learn from the Rutland NAACP group about inclusivity.

Right?




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Response to ehrnst (Reply #21)

Tue Dec 4, 2018, 02:46 PM

28. Whoosh!

Preach it, ehrnst!

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Response to JCanete (Reply #19)

Thu Dec 6, 2018, 08:54 AM

33. I think we both know that going the Rutland NAACP with that critique would look something like this:


/photo/1

And that's why you won't.

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Response to ehrnst (Reply #33)

Thu Dec 6, 2018, 11:09 AM

36. of course...I'm perfectly willing to listen to this person's critiques...but first, not everybody is

in lock step agreement with this person, nor does her unique perspective automatically make her right, nor am I having a conversation with her. I'm having it with you, since you broached it. Either you defend the characterization you thought so important to bring into the discussion board here, or I'm going to assume you just want to hide behind that accusation you are levying at me and that you yourself have nothing.

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Response to JCanete (Reply #36)

Thu Dec 6, 2018, 03:37 PM

38. No one expected everyone to be in lockstep agreement...

except perhaps you, who jumped on me for even suggesting that not all the activists in Vermont viewed the Gathering as being inclusive of Vermont activists of color.

I'm going to assume you want to have the conversation with me, because I'm not the one in the NAACP making the argument, and you can hide from the actual responses that you might get from those activists who might just know a bit more about the situation and what is and isn't "inclusive" when it comes to Vermont than you do.

Your critiques would be most constructive relayed directly to the people making them, but I'm going to assume you want to complain about dissent from praise for the Gathering without any critiques your POV might get.

Here is more on the subject that might give you a broader perspective on the topic:

Former state Rep. Kiah Morris, D-Bennington, who recently resigned as one of just five lawmakers of color in the 180-member Legislature after facing racial harassment, not only added her name but also shared her own concerns on Twitter.

‏“How many POC (person of color) leaders in Vermont were invited to the #sandersinstitutegathering18?” Morris tweeted. “I am just curious what sort of future plans might be discussed without us in the room.”

“I have no problem w/ @SenSanders,” she continued. “He has been a friend & supporter for years now. I DO have a problem with systems of exclusion, segregation, power and control used by many predominantly white-led institutions that deny marginalized peoples an equal seat at the table.”


https://vtdigger.org/2018/12/03/state-activists-question-inclusivity-sanders-institute-gathering/

Again - here is your chance to enlighten them and let them - not me, because I'm not in that group - know how misguided they are on inclusivity, and how "absurd" the statement that all these people signed actually is.

You can even just PM them from this page, if you don't want your explanation to them to be public:

https://www.facebook.com/naacprutland/


Let us know how that goes.

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Response to JCanete (Reply #14)

Tue Dec 4, 2018, 12:37 PM

23. The "author" isn't just some person in the United States, she is the President....

....of the local chapter of the NAACP in Vermont. The letter was also signed by a number of other prominent citizens of Vermont. I know you claim it wasn't "specifically about Vermont", but people seem to forget that Sanders is a SENATOR FROM VERMONT! So all those non-diverse invitees are more important to Sanders than his very own constituents?

No parsing of words there, just a observations by citizens of VERMONT about THEIR Senator!!

Oh, and I wonder why he scheduled this event at the same time as a very similar, but much more inclusive and extensive event held by Al Gore yesterday and today?

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Response to George II (Reply #23)

Tue Dec 4, 2018, 02:30 PM

24. How do you determine what was much more inclusive. Based on what metric?


Nor was it simply an observation by Vermonters. I'm sure this head of the NAACP is an amazing individual, but what was read into this action, hypocrisy, elitism. just doesn't add up. Its an absurd claim to make, and so is attempting to make Sanders panel non-diverse because there were no Vermonters in the mix.

Its entirely reasonable to say they wished Sanders had invited people from Vermont, and to question whether he pays enough specific attention to the voices in his home state, but this was making entirely grander claims about what this adds up to.

As to your last question...how many people do we have in this united states? You can't have more than one event in similar time frames? Why do I have a feeling that as diverse as Al Gore's event was, nobody on Sanders guest list had to make a really hard decision which one to attend?

Different voices, different focuses on important issues. Why do people fall over backwards trying to make something negative of discussions about seriously important issues? If more people are being exposed to them, how is that a bad thing?

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Response to JCanete (Reply #24)

Tue Dec 4, 2018, 02:40 PM

25. Presumably Sanders had the "experts" on the subject, so by scheduling it at the same time....

....as Gore's event, he was sucking away some who could have participated in Gore's event.

That letter wasn't the only thing criticizing the Vermont event and the dedication of the leaders of the gathering in Vermont. You should read the Rutland Herald for more comments from prominent Vermonters.

Once again, the constituents of Vermont seem to be getting ignored by their junior Senator who seems to have other priorities than his own constituents.

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Response to George II (Reply #25)

Tue Dec 4, 2018, 02:49 PM

29. Oh my!

Once again, the constituents of Vermont seem to be getting ignored by their junior Senator who seems to have other priorities than his own constituents.

Whatever could those 'other' priorities be????

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Response to peggysue2 (Reply #29)

Tue Dec 4, 2018, 02:55 PM

30. ...



What's amazing is that he holds this highly publicized event IN Vermont to discuss a number of social issues yet he neglects to invite those in his own state, his constituents, who are most affected by those issues.

And people are excusing this.

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Response to George II (Reply #30)

Thu Dec 6, 2018, 11:11 AM

37. This argument is silly. Not every forum always has to include the same people. Nor would you hold


anybody else to this bar. I guess I could start looking for you at previous events thrown by other more "respectable" public figures here, but I think we know what that would show.

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Response to JCanete (Reply #37)

Thu Dec 6, 2018, 03:47 PM

40. "Silly." That's almost as condescending as "absurd."

Last edited Thu Dec 6, 2018, 05:50 PM - Edit history (4)

Is the irony sinking in yet?

Ok - probably not. You accusing others of what you yourself do...

You hide behind quotation marks.. "respectable" and demand that others walk in lockstep, by claiming that others are demanding you do.

You've demonstrated that you don't have the nerve to actually put your money where your mouth is, and tell the Rutland NAACP them that they are being "absurd" and "silly" to even think that the Sanders Gathering is anything but pure and TOTALLY inclusive.

We all know why. You couldn't take the schooling you'd get.

Reminds me of a certain politician who believes that no one that refuses to walk lockstep with their manifesto could possibly be "respectable." Just "absurd" and "silly" at best, but likely "corrupt!!!" and "corporatist!!!!!!!!!!!!"




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Response to JCanete (Reply #24)

Thu Dec 6, 2018, 09:32 AM

35. Again, why don't you ask those writing the letter that question?

Do you think that you might have something to learn, not just teach these activists of color?


/photo/1

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Response to JCanete (Reply #24)

Thu Dec 6, 2018, 03:45 PM

39. It's not just one "individual" making this "absurd claim."

Last edited Thu Dec 6, 2018, 05:55 PM - Edit history (1)

Perhaps you didn't read to the bottom of the letter, that listed the other clearly misguided progressive activist POC leaders who were making claims that were too "grand" and "falling over backwards to make something negative of discussions about seriously important issues" as you call it.

Why do you think it is about all these people that renders them so unable to see how "absurd" they are being?

Tabitha Pohl-Moore
President, Rutland Area Branch of the NAACP

Steffen Gillom
President, Windham County Branch of the NAACP

Amanda Garces
Founder, Vermont Coalition for Ethnic and Social Equity in Schools

Curtiss Reed, Jr.
Executive Director, Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity

Kiah Morris
Former State Representative

Katrina Battle
POC Caucus Coordinator, Black Lives Matter of Greater Burlington

Jabari Jones
Organizer, Black Lives Matter of Greater Burlington

Wafic Faour
Vermonters for Justice in Palestine
Member, BLM of Greater Burlington

Marita Canedo
Justicia Migrante/Migrant Justice

Shela Linton
Co-Coordinator BIPOC Caucus, Root Social Justice Center

Sha’an Mouliert
Co-Coordinator, I am Vermont Too

Mark Hughes
Exectutive Director, Justice for All

Beverly Little Thunder
Activist, founder of Kunsi Keya Tamakoce, Peace and Justice Board Member

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Response to ehrnst (Reply #39)

Thu Dec 6, 2018, 10:58 PM

44. I'm sure they're great people. I disagree with great people all the time. Sometimes they even


disagree with each other. Weird, right? But you have every opportunity to justify the claim here to me. You posted it. You keep insisting with your actions that all you need to do is to point out that others have a certain opinion. I'm all ears and willing to learn. You want me to go post to these busy advocates who may very well ignore my random post, YET you want to use what they've said as something of salience, but won't yourself defend it.

I still want to know, What was the hypocrisy? What is elitist about bringing together public figures who can most visibly advocate for policies that strip power from the elites and give more protections to the rest of us? Does Sanders or does he not go to town halls and talk directly to the public in those town halls? Does he or does he not have local speakers on some of those panels? Is there a pattern of him just hobnobbing with the powerful and famous, particularly in these sorts of venues, or is that hogwash?

And were there or were there not a range of speakers at the event, which is why the repeated refrain is NOT an accusation of no diversity, but rather of there being no diverse Vermonters? How many Vermonters were invited in total?

Now whether that last part is a fair criticism or not, I'm not sure. Locals certainly have a right to voice their criticism of their elected official if they don't think he or she is properly representing them, but I still don't see how that complaint turns into either of the aforementioned charcterizations, and don't expect you to step up to the plate to explain how you see it does any time soon.



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Response to George II (Reply #23)

Tue Dec 4, 2018, 03:05 PM

32. This is reminiscent of the Sanders campaign in SC

I didn't hear this anecdote until after the primary but several senior civil rights leaders in the state of SC were very interested in the Sanders campaign message and even offered significant help on the ground and outreach to communities of color in that state. The leaders of that campaign said essentially "thanks but no thanks", implying they didn't need the local help, which those leaders, rightly, interpreted as a slap in the face.

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Response to Docreed2003 (Reply #32)

Thu Dec 6, 2018, 05:52 PM

43. Indeed.

But some here would say that they were being "silly" and "absurd" to consider the campaign staff less than TOTALLY inclusive.

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Mon Dec 3, 2018, 02:25 PM

15. K&R

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Tue Dec 4, 2018, 08:04 AM

22. K&R

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Tue Dec 4, 2018, 02:45 PM

27. He has been told a million times that he has an inclusion problem.

He knows it, he just doesn't give a shit.

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Tue Dec 4, 2018, 02:56 PM

31. K&R

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Thu Dec 6, 2018, 09:04 AM

34. Bernie is Not Just a Part of the Movement. He is His Own Movement

Nt

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Response to TomCADem (Reply #34)

Thu Dec 6, 2018, 03:47 PM

41. No he's not and he won't have the critical mass of minorty voters

Especially black.

He still for the most part going among the privileged and the white with his message rarely going into the heart of black communities to speak to black issues

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Response to TomCADem (Reply #34)

Thu Dec 6, 2018, 03:49 PM

42. I think that one needs to understand the difference between a campaign and a movement. (nt)

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Response to ehrnst (Reply #42)

Fri Dec 7, 2018, 05:19 AM

46. Hear Hear!

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Fri Dec 7, 2018, 05:18 AM

45. Vermont leaders have issues with Sanders

snip//

Multiple leaders of Vermont social justice organizations have found unity in response to what they believe was a snub from Sen. Bernie Sanders and the Sanders Institute.

The institute hosted a 3-day gathering over the weekend during which, according to media reports, various issues important to the Progressive movement were discussed. However, Vermont leaders of organizations active in those causes weren’t invited to speak or learn from national leaders.

An open letter was published on the Facebook page of the Rutland Area and Windham County branches of the NAACP on Saturday.

Since the letter was posted, others have signed on to show their support from Vermont groups such as Black Lives Matter of Greater Burlington, the Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity..

The Vermont Coalition for Ethnic and Social Equity in Schools, Justice for All, the ACLU of Vermont and the Nulhegan Abenaki tribe

More..
https://www.rutlandherald.com/news/local/anger-at-sanders-event-unites-some-vermont-leaders/article_dcafa914-69bc-5778-8443-720f589cb7a0.html

I appreciate them speaking out.. it was a snub whether intentional or not.

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