A lofty effort to confront “systemic racism” pervasive throughout Vermont state government, Senate Bill 281 in its wording alone reflects the notion of white exceptionalism underlying America’s extensive racial stereotypes. Furthermore, its failure to achieve anything near its desired goals is guaranteed simple because it fails to address the problem and focuses solely on a symptom.
Racial bigotry, prejudices and stereotypes reflect an ingrained sickness rooted in white supremacist ideology. That sense of white as the norm and everything else as an “other” reveals itself in the “people of color” mantra espoused by those who mindlessly adhere to the unrealistic belief that one race of beings is entirely without color. The “pure” race.
Simple scientific reality plus a dose of common sense reveals all people are “colored”, with the exception being albinos, whose disorder occurs throughout all races and even within the plant and animal kingdoms.
If Vermont legislators truly want to end “systemic racism,” the best starting place would be significant soul-searching among themselves. Indeed; as a multi-racial woman who has lived in Idaho and North Dakota among other states, it wasn’t until I moved to this so-called most progressive state in the union that I experienced the height of white-supremacist hubris – and all of it while being employed by the state.
Still, having endured a professional lynching by the Office of the State Treasurer and the State Human Resources Department, I concur, albeit for different reasons, with Senators Randy Brock and Joe Benning that S.281 espouses the same moral precepts it was designed to address. While the two senators objected to its mandate for racial diversity on the Civil Rights Advisory Council created by the bill language, its use of race-exclusivity and racial superiority concepts reflect the bill’s sheer hypocrisy.
Ending “systemic racism” requires admitting the reason it exists. Beyond skin color exists diversity of thought, and the notion of one group of people being without color is absurd. Rather than focus on the symptoms of the mindset of such racial hubris, focus on the sickness itself. Eliminate white exceptionalism, as echoed in Senator Jeannette White’s comments that the bill aims to uncover “systems that affect people of color in negative ways” and therefore must mandate that “people of color” be part of the advisory council to “hear their voices.”
An individual need not be of similar skin color to comprehend unwarranted bias, unfairness, abject obstructionism and hatred toward someone. One need not be of the same skin color to recognize discrimination, second-class treatment, petty jealousies and irrational fears toward an individual never met. One needs an open mind to realize the cruelty of race-based jokes.
Senator White would do better to ask why the state did nothing to protect me from a white male coworker with a history of violence. The Vermont Department of Human Resources and the State Treasurer Office ignored my request for protection – after I had been harassed and threatened (this guy poked his finger and my face) – and then further endangered me.
One need not be of the same skin color to appreciate being able to work without being in fear for one’s life; yet, in Vermont, if your skin color is darker than the white crowd, it isn’t that your life is meaningless, it’s that the life of the white crowd matters more. The words of a white male are taken as gospel, even when he is a proven liar and abuser.
Still, based on laws created primarily by the white citizenship, the bar is incredibly high for legal proof of race discrimination, which is why S281 becomes a meaningless bill crafted by politicians more concerned about image than substance. Ones more prone to giving lip service than taking actual steps to confront the very types of biases and hatred intrinsically ingrained in their vernacular.
End the white supremacist ideal of exceptionalism, and the symptoms of bigotry, racism, prejudice and discrimination virtually disappear. Confront inherent notions of white supremacy, and systemic biases start to die. Remove the “people of color” racist hubris that further perpetuates this sense of race superiority, and discussions then would extend beyond skin color. One cannot control all people’s minds, but one can alter mainstream discussion; so, a race with a feeling of exceptionalism must admit it is neither exceptional nor superior.
Effecting permanent change requires admitting the problem. For Vermont legislators to deter the race-hatred and discrimination plaguing the walls of state government offices, they must address the white exceptionalism, which, to this day, reveals itself constantly, including in the very law drafted to supposedly end “systemic racism.”
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