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Updates from the Anti-Racism Committee

This is a running log of email news updates sent to staff by the Anti-Racism Committee at Cathedral Square, starting with the most recent. The committee follows these brief monthly updates with a "Lunch & Learn" over Zoom for those who wish to delve deeper into this and other topics related to race, racism and white supremacy culture. 

Dec. 22, 2022

Greetings and Happy Holidays from the Anti-Racism Committee!

We are devoting this edition of our bimonthly newsletter to address the existence of slavery in Vermont and elsewhere in the North.

Ask most Americans about slavery and they will probably tell you that Africans were enslaved in the South to farm cotton, rice, and tobacco. They aren’t wrong, but that’s not the whole story. While most people think of the North as a sanctuary for enslaved people, Vermont and the New England colonies also actively participated in the global slave market. Mark Howard Ross, author of Slavery in the North, calls this “collective forgetting.”

How Vermont Profited from Slavery (from Vermont Public’s “Brave Little State” interview with historian Harvey Amani Whitfield, Ph.D.)

  • In 1777 Vermont was the first colony to “outlaw” slavery in the state constitution, but the law applied only to males after age 21 and women after 18 — the result being that many Vermonters continued to enslave children. As well, the law specified that it was legal to enslave people if “they are bound by their own consent after they arrive to such age, or bound by law, for the payment of debts, damages, fines, costs, or the like.” It was only this year that Vermonters voted to amend the constitution to remove such language and make all instances of involuntary servitude illegal.
  • Many powerful white families enslaved Black people in Vermont through the mid-1800s and sold them out of state, or they had servants and laborers who were slaves in all but name. Evidence of enslaved Black children in white Vermont households can be found through the 1800s.
  • Several towns in Vermont were settled by slaveholders who brought their slaves with them. The settlers of Sheldon and Townshend were almost certainly slaveholders. Ethan Allen had two Black men who were “servants,” and His daughter Lucy Caroline Hitchcock owned slaves in Alabama and brought two of them with her when she moved to Burlington in the 1830s.
  • A Black enslaved person in Vermont might have had access to certain freedoms not allowed elsewhere in New England, such as access to the court system, but “At the very same time, if you were a Black person you might see your son or daughter kidnapped and sold outside of the state. You yourself could be kidnapped and re-enslaved. You yourself could still be a slave despite the 1777 constitution,” said Dr. Whitfield.
  • Economically, slavery benefited everyone except the enslaved person because it provided jobs and produces cheap products.
    • Textile Mills: Vermonters benefited from employment in cotton mills that processed cotton that was cheaper to purchase because it was grown by enslaved labor in the South. Cotton mills were part of the Vermont landscape in the early 1800s. The Middlebury cotton mill was the largest in the state, while Burlington’s Queen City Mill employed over 600 people, and the Vermont state prison had over 50 power looms at the time. The 1820 census listed 11 manufacturers of cotton yarn and or cloth in Vermont. There also is evidence that Vermont mills produced “slave cloth” — a cheaper, thinner cloth made specifically for enslaved peoples.
    • Cheaper products: Foreign products and those produced in other parts of the U.S. were cheaper because the producers used the labor of enslaved peoples. Vermonters benefited by purchasing cheap farm tools from Ames Tool Company in Boston and enjoying sugar and coffee from plantations in the West Indies.

Pipeline to the South & West Indies: Vermont farms also sold livestock and farm produce to the markets in Boston that in turn sold them to the South and the West Indies to feed enslaved peoples.

The Legacy of Slavery in Vermont Today

  • Shelburne Museum was started by Electra Havemeyer Webb, whose father was a major player in the sugar refining industry. He founded what later became known as Domino Sugar. Their family did not own enslaved people or plantations, but the sugar refining industry relied first on slave labor, then on a brutal system of sharecropping, to harvest sugar cane. The museum has begun exploring this legacy.
  • The Rokeby Museum is on farm land owned by the Robinson family who came from Rhode Island, where their family enslaved large numbers of people. Even though the Robinsons in Vermont were abolitionists, the money to purchase their land came from slave labor.

Slavery in New England

  • In the 17th century, the majority of enslaved people in colonial New England were Native Americans. This shifted in the 18th century as New England colonists gained access to international African slave markets and sought to violently purge Native peoples from their lands. (Source: Christy Clark Pujara, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin).
  • Early in New England’s history, whites began enslaving and shipping local Native Americans to the West Indies.
  • Rhode Island played a leading role in the transatlantic slave trade. Rhode Island had more slaves per capita than any other New England colony. Rhode Island fueled its rum trade by trafficking humans in Africa and the Caribbean, and it housed the country’s third largest slave auction house (after NYC and Charleston, SC) in in Newport. By the close of the 18th century, Rhode Islanders had mounted at least 1,000 voyages from Africa to the Americas.
  • The North was in many ways the engine behind the expansion of slavery in the South. New England’s thriving textile mills used cotton picked by enslaved people in the South who received no compensation for their work.

Note: most of this information was taken from History.com and National Geographic.

Resources for Learning More

October 2022

Hello Everyone,

A quick update from the Anti-Racism Committee.

Book Club will meet on Wednesday, October 26 to discuss Real Queer America: LGBT Stories From The Red States by Samantha Allen. Check you calendar for the zoom link.

This month we are celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day that typically occurs on the second Monday of October. Its purpose is to recognize, celebrate, and honor the culture, sovereignty, and accomplishments of Indigenous peoples. NY Times.

Indigenous people in the U.S. continue to advocate for Indigenous Peoples’ Day to replace Columbus Day as a federal holiday. Columbus was a colonizer who was responsible for the genocide of native people, the theft of their lands, and the destruction of their culture. The Conversation.

Abenaki People in Vermont

  • Abenaki people have lived in Vermont for almost 13,000 years.
  • Abenaki is the common name of the People of the Dawnland. The word means “people of the east” so named because the rays of the sun at dawn hit first on that northeastern part of the country where they lived.
  • The Western Abenaki of Vermont and New Hampshire and the Eastern Abenaki of Main were originally part of the Wabanaki group of peoples who occupied much of the areas now known as New England, Canada, and Nova Scotia. During the 1500s and 1600s as much as 75% of these peoples were wiped out by diseases brought by European colonizers.
  • Starting in the 1930s Abenakis were victimized by Vermont’s eugenics program that involved enforced sterilization. The State also denied their consistent presence on what is now Vermont land until 2012 when they were officially recognized by the State.

Note: eugenicists have attempted to alter human gene pools by excluding people and groups judged to be inferior or promoting those judged to be superior.

We’re Here. We’ve Been Here Forever

  • Abenakis and all Indigenous People are living people with a present and future as well as a past.
  • Members of the Vermont bands have spoken about being invisible in Vermont. They have said that people know they were here historically but are unaware that they are here now contributing to Vermont’s culture, customs, educational institutions, and political landscape.
  • Abenaki’s living in Vermont and across New England keep their traditions and culture alive by participating in gatherings, sharing food, and working to preserve their language. Tribal leaders spoke with Jane Lindholm about their lives today.

State Recognition

In 2012 Vermont officially recognized four bands of Abenaki.

  1. Elnu Abenaki Tribe of southern Vermont
  2. Koasek Traditional Band of the Koas Abenaki Nation of central and northeastern Vermont and parts of New Hampshire.
  3. Nulegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation, of the Upper Connecticut Valley, parts of New Hampshire and the eastern townships of Quebec.
  4. St. Francis-Sokoki Band of the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi of northwestern Vermont.


  • How Do You Pronounce Abenaki? The common pronunciation of Abenaki in the United States is [A-ben-A-kee], but as a result of the imposition of two different settler colonial regimes there are three different pronunciations in use. Even in Vermont there have been various ways of saying the word. (Middlebury College) Click here to hear the three pronunciations.
  • Paddling on Both Sides: Youtube video (1.2 minutes) by Buffy St. Marie about importance of hearing about both the victimization and the contributions of Indigenous people.
  • Abenaki Ways of Knowing Water: Abenaki people telling the story of Lake Champlain. Youtube video (12:30 minutes)
  • Vermont Abenaki: The story of the Fight for State recognition. Youtube (21 minutes)

August 2022

Hello Everyone,

Here’s a quick news update from the Anti-Racism Committee. This month we are focused on LGBTQ+ topics in celebration of the Pride Center of Vermont’s Pride Week coming up in September.

Book Group: Due to popular demand the Book Club is continuing with a brand-new selection. Real Queer America: LGBT Stories from The Red States by Samantha Allen. The New York Times describes it as, A transgender reporter's "powerful, profoundly moving" narrative tour through the surprisingly vibrant queer communities sprouting up in red states, offering a vision of a stronger, more humane America. This book is all about community and how it supports LGBTQ+ people no matter where they live.

Lunch & Learn: Wednesday, September 14, noon, discussion of LGBTQ+ topics. 

LGBTQ+ Definitions: An acronym for non-heterosexual and cisgender identities that stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning. Sometimes these letters will be rearranged as GLBTQ+, or have added letters such as LGBTQIA+ (I standing for intersex and A standing for asexual or aromatic). The “+” is to represent the many identities that do not fit within the LGBTQ+ acronym, but that may identify within LGBTQ+ experiences. (This definition and those that follow are from the Pride Center of Vermont. Please visit their website for additional definitions and information.)

  • Lesbian: A woman who is romantically and/or sexually attracted primarily to other women.
  • Gay: 1) A man who is romantically and/or sexually attracted primarily to other men. 2) The term may be used by any person (e.g. gay man, gay woman, gay person), however this is considered erasure of the breadth of sexual orientations and gender identities within the LGBTQ+ umbrella.
  • Bisexual/Bi: A person who is attracted to two or more genders.
  • Transgender: This term has many definitions. It is frequently used as an umbrella term to refer to all people whose gender does not align with the gender they were assigned at birth. This can include trans women, trans men, folks who identify as genderqueer, non-binary, and more. It’s important to note that the gender following trans (e.g., trans man or trans woman) indicates how the person self-identifies and not the sex they were assigned at birth.
  • Queer: A more open and fluid identity that is sometimes used as an umbrella term for people who do not identify as straight/heterosexual. The term is also sometimes used in relation to gender to signify that a person does not identify as gender conforming. Historically this term was used as a slur, and is often still offensive especially to people who experienced this; some prefer that this term not be used in reference to them or around them given its history, while others feel empowered by it.

LGBTQ+ Pride Week September 8 – 19.

Celebrating and supporting Vermont’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community of all ages, as well as educating and serving as a bridge to create alliances with each other and with the greater community as a whole.

  • Pride Parade. Downtown Burlington, Sunday, September 18th, 12:30 pm – 1pm. The Pride Parade kicks off at 12:30 pm at the south end of Church Street and ends at Waterfront Park where the festival is held.
  • Pride Festival. Waterfront Park, Sunday, September 18th @ 1pm – 5pm. The Pride Festival is one big party in Waterfront Park following the parade. It’s a place for the entire community – LGBTQ+ and allies of all ages, races, and backgrounds to come together. Colorful, showstopping performers will entertain on stage while the park is filled with fabulous vendors. Information, activities, and food for all.
  • Tea Dance at Stowe Cider. Sunday September 11, 2:30-11:00 pm. Fundraiser for Pride Center of Vermont. Featuring DJ Chia, a story hour with Emoji Nightmare, food, games & drink specials. $5 at the door, with door charge donated to Pride Center of Vermont.

May 2022

Hello Everyone,

At our next Lunch & Learn we will be discussing how people of European decent in the American colonies became “white” and how the designation of whiteness established economic and social benefits that continue to this day.

The idea that whiteness is a biological marker of superior intelligence and morality was created in the colonies to insure that wealthy white landowners remained in control of the economy. They settled on race as the defining characteristic of superiority rather than class because class left open the possibility of laborers of all colors uniting to overthrow the wealthy.

Collective Identity

In the early 17th century settlers in the American colonies of England were likely to identify themselves by their national origin and religion but not by their skin color.

  • If asked settlers might have said their skin was white but no value was attached to white skin just as there was no value attached to having big feet or brown hair.
  • Settlers primarily identified as English, Scottish or Irish and Christian.

Economic Structure

The colonies were populated by a diverse group of wealthy landowners, indentured servants, black and Native American slaves and free whites who had completed their term of indentured service. Blacks and whites worked together, married and had children. Wealth and poverty divided people, not skin color or national origin.

  • Landowners were able to build wealth by using the labor of indentured servants from Europe to work their plantations. After fulfilling seven years of servitude the workers were then free to homestead their own farms.
  • Indentured servants were so badly treated by the wealthy landowners that the reality of coming to the colonies via servitude became a less attractive option for western Europeans. As their numbers dwindled the landowners relied more and more on slaves from Africa.


Plantation owners knew that their cruel treatment of indentured Europeans and even harsher treatment of enslaved persons might lead to violent uprisings. In 1676 their fears became reality when Nathanael Bacon led a rebellion that united impoverished, indentured, and enslaved Africans and Europeans, and literally burned Jamestown, Virginia to the ground.

Although the Bacon Rebellion was eventually put down the plantation owners began using a divide and conquer strategy based on skin color to control the working population. They developed laws that established legal privileges for poor whites while denying them to the black population. Examples of those laws are:

In 1664 Maryland enacted a law defined slaves as “black and a resident of Maryland.” This meant that all black people were slaves.

In 1680 Virginia wrote white into law for the first time in the colonies. The law states that any negroe or other slave could not raise a hand to any white person and that whites could supervise blacks. The law effectively put white servants on par with their masters and established an alignment between poor and wealthy whites. Another part of the law makes slavery permanent and inheritable.

In 1681 Virginia outlawed marriage between blacks and whites. These marriages produced children with many different skin tones. If a divide and conquer strategy based on skin color were to succeed the powerful could not allow this to continue.

In 1705 Virginia established that white servants could own property and that all property owned by slaves was to be seized and sold. This meant that the white poor materially benefited from additional oppressions put upon black slaves.

The legal construction of race accomplished two goals. It helped diffuse the threat of insurrection and it insured that poor white people would see themselves as allied with people who were far wealthier than themselves. Many economist argue today that it is this alliance that encourages the poor to support laws and practices that benefit the rich.

Although whiteness was codified in 1680 the definition of exactly who qualifies as white has changed over time to meet the needs of the economy. At times in our history Greeks, Italians, Germans, Spaniards, Irish, Jews, Mexicans and many others have been considered “not white” people who pose a threat to the safety and security of “real white” people. We see this rhetoric play out today by politicians who use the term “real Americans” to rally voters.

It is important to remember that the ideology that supports white skin as ordained by God and nature as inherently superior was actually born of a desire for economic power.


How American Invented Race, PBS 8 minutes

Race: The Power of An Illusion, PBS chart of laws and what they accomplished

The History of White People in America, PBS, 5 minutes

March 2022

Hello Everyone,

Here’s a quick news update from your Anti-Racism Committee.

Our first-ever book club was a huge success. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas turned out to be a wonderful choice, and the discussion group led by Kat Patterson was engaging and lively. Thank you to the Cathedral Church of St. Paul for providing us with copies of the book and to CEO Kim Fitzgerald for allowing borrowers to pass it along to someone else now that the discussion is behind us. If you have any ideas for a new book to read together please send it to Kat Patterson at patterson@cathedralsquare.org.

This month we are focusing on anti-Semitism.  Anti-Semitism is hostility to, prejudice toward or discrimination against Jews. A person who holds such positions is called an anti-Semite. Anti-Semitism is considered a form of racism, although Semitic actually refers to a group of languages and not to a particular group of people.

The History of Anti-Semitism

Hostility toward Jews goes back thousands of years, but the term anti-Semitism was first used in Europe in 1881 by German Wilhelm Marr. In 1902, during the Russian pogroms, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was written by the Russian secret police and promoted the idea that there was a cabal of wealthy Jews who sought to take control of the world. The writers promoted an image of Jews as miserly, greedy, wealthy, deceitful, scheming bankers, jewelers, money lenders, and tax collectors. They also portrayed Jews with large hooked noses, curly hair, dark eyes, drooping eyelids and often with horns.

Current Manifestations of Anti-Semitism

The ideas promoted in The Protocols are still with us today. Most of us have heard the term “Jew down” that plays on the idea that Jews are greedy and deceitful. The phrase “you don’t look Jewish” comes from the exaggerated physical characteristics contained in The Protocols and is still present in comedy sketches and memes.

The Southern Poverty Law Center identifies the three pillars that hold up white supremacy as: 1) anti-Semitism; 2) racism against people of color; and 3) misogyny. However, it is anti-Semitism or hatred of Jews that is the overarching ideology of white nationalist groups. That ideology states that “Jews are part of an international cabal whose goal is to infiltrate and supplant white culture by using communities of color and the LGBTQ movement as tools.”

Violent attacks against Jewish groups have increased over the past five years:

  • 2022: Gunman held four people hostage at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas.
  • 2019: One person was killed and three others wounded by a gunman at the Chabad of Poway synagogue near San Diego.
  • 2019: Three people were killed by two shooters in 2019 at a kosher market in Jersey City, NJ, in an attack authorities said was fueled in part by anti-Semitism.
  • 2018: Eleven people were killed at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh when a gunman made anti-Semitic comments and opened fire on the congregation.

Because of these and hundreds of other anti-Semetic incidents that happen every day, 39% of American Jews over the past year took steps to avoid being identified as Jewish. (American Jewish Community, 2022)


I’m That Jew, by Eitan Chitayat (6-minute video)

Who Decides Who Is A Jew, by Unpacked (7-minute video)

10 Tough Questions on Antisemitism Explained, 5-minute read (American Jewish Community, 2022)

We hope you will join us next Wednesday, March 23, for our Lunch & Learn!

January 4, 2022

Happy New Year from the Anti-Racism Committee. Here’s our first update of 2022.

New Committee MembersWe are very excited to welcome three new members to the Anti-Racism Committee. Pamela Gratton is a SASH Wellness Nurse based at Elm Place in Milton, Bailey Sherwin is our new Human Resource Coordinator, and Judy Wade is a Cathedral Square resident at Jeri Hill in Jericho.

Book Club DiscussionFebruary 16, noon – 1:00. Kat Patterson will facilitate the meeting and will have questions for discussion. You are also welcome to bring your own questions.

We are reading The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. It’s the story of a 16-year-old girl, Starr Carter, with her own life and problems who is thrust into the spotlight when she accepts a ride home from a party with childhood friend Khalil, only to watch police stop the car and shoot him before her eyes.

In keeping with the life of the central character of The Hate U Give, our newsletter this month is focusing on the term Intersectionality. As you read the book you will notice that Starr has several social identities that combine to impact her experiences, belief systems, values and actions, and create tensions in her life.

Lunch and Learn: Wednesday, January 16, noon – 1:00: Discussion of intersectionality

IntersectionalityIntersectionality is a framework for understanding how social identities — such as gender, race, ethnicity, social class, religion, sexual orientation, ability and gender identity — overlap with one another and with systems of power that oppress and advantage people.

The term was first coined in 1989 by legal scholar Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, when she read about a case against General Motors that alleged GM practiced discrimination when they denied employment to Emma Degraffenreid, a black woman.

  • The judge in the case found that General Motors was not guilty of racial discrimination because GM had African Americans employees and was also not guilty of gender discrimination because they had women employees.
  • Crenshaw saw that the judge had ignored that the only African Americans at the factory were men in positons on the factory floor and that all of the women at the factory were white women in positions as secretaries. GM had no employees who were women of color.
  • The judge refused to acknowledge that race and gender intersected in a way that prevented black women from obtaining a job at the General Motors factory. She termed this overlapping discrimination intersectionality.

Read this interview with Crenshaw by Time Magazine on what intersectionality means to her today.

Expanded Definition of IntersectionalitySince 1989 intersectionality has grown to include an understanding of how all identities combine to influence individual experiences.

  • “While we all hold many different identities, they are not all marginalized identities. One might be black and wealthy; or male and gay; or female and white. So while a key goal of intersectionality is to fight for the visibility and inclusion of the multiply marginalized, it has also brought to light the complexity of having identities that combine elements of oppression and of privilege.” ¾ Doing Better at Intersectionality, by Judith Rosenbaum, Huffpost.

“There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” ? Audre Lorde (Sister Outsider)



The CSC Anti-Racism Committee 
(Sharon Snow, Kat Patterson, Molly Dugan, Deb Bouton, Greg Montgomery, Bailey Sherwin, Pamela Gratton, Judy Wade)

November 16, 2021

This month we are focusing on the term White Privilege – what it means, what it looks like, and how it impacts each of us. But first we have an important announcement.

New Book Discussion Group Starting Soon

We are excited to offer an opportunity for us to gather as colleagues and discuss the book The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas. A #1 New York Times Bestseller, it is summarized as “Angie’s Thomas’s searing debut about an ordinary girl in extraordinary circumstances [that] addresses issues of racism and police violence with intelligence, heart and unflinching honesty.”

We have 24 copies of the book available thanks to a donation from the Cathedral Church of St. Paul. To borrow one of the books, simply fill out the quick form here. The book discussion will take place virtually at 12 noon on Wednesday, February 16. Don’t delay, get the book and start reading!

Defining White Privilege

“White privilege” is a combination of the terms ”white” and ”privilege.”

  • Privilege refers to an unearned advantage or entitlement one person or a group of people have, usually because of their position or because they are rich.
  • The term “white” refers to people of European origins who identify or are identified as white.
  • White privilege can be defined as the implicit societal advantages afforded to white people relative to those who experience racism.” RacismNoWay

The term white privilege is thought to have been first used by sociologist and writer W.E.B. Dubois in 1935. In 1998, activist and scholar Peggy McIntosh described what it looks like in her paper "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack." You can check out the privileges she identified here.

Acknowledging that white privilege exists isn’t the same as saying all white people are racists. It also doesn't mean that white people have never endured challenges and distressing events. It just recognizes that their struggles have not been caused by their skin color.

Resources to Learn More

  • Here’s a video on how individuals experience privilege based on their overlapping identities of race, sexuality, gender and class.
  • Students of color experience their educational environment differently than white students. Check out these personal accounts of black and native high school students.

Another privilege white people experience that is probably invisible to them is being able to walk into a drugstore and find a wide array of hair and skincare products suitable to their needs. Until June 2020, Wallmart, CVS, and Walgreens stores kept “ethnic” hair and beauty products in locked cases so black people wouldn’t steal them. This meant that if you were black you had to ask a store employee to unlock the case and watch you while you selected a product. Listen to this segment on NPR.

Sometimes when people realize that they experience advantages based on their skin color they aren’t sure what to do about it. This applies to white people and also to people of color who may experience varying types of bias based on skin tone or ethnicity. Here are two things everyone can do:

  • Speak up when you see people being treated differently because of their skin color or hear someone make a racist remark. Don’t call the person a racist (you don’t know if that’s true); just call out their offensive speech or behavior. They might not even be aware of it.
  • Knowledge is transformative. Teach one other person what you’ve learned about white privilege.

Please join us for our next Lunch & Learn on December 8 at noon, when we’ll dive into this topic. You will receive a zoom invitation soon.

October 19, 2021

This month we’re focusing on the phrase “Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion” (DEI) -- what it actually means and why it is important to Cathedral Square.

Diversity: Diversity refers to the presence of the range of experiences and knowledge employees bring to their work lives. We often think of diversity as race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic class and religion, but it also includes differences in thought, regional cultural influences, physical ability, and even parental status. Diverse workforces increase the innovation and creativity that takes place in every organization including Cathedral Square.

Equity: Equity is the most important part of DEI. While equality gives each person or group access to the same resources, equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances and allocates resources that produce an equal outcome.

  • Symphony orchestras historically have been unwelcoming to white women and people of color. Over the past 20 years orchestras have attempted to create equity by implementing “blind auditions” whereby musicians are hidden from the view of judges. They found that judges still recognized women musicians by the sound of their high heels clicking on the stage. When all musicians were asked to take their shoes off before walking on stage the rate of women chosen to join the orchestras dramatically increased. (Source: The Guardian)

    Read how The New York Time’s chief classical music critic Anthony Thomasini, argues that blind auditions should be discontinued in order to create orchestras that represent the communities of color they serve.

Inclusion: Inclusion means that every person feels welcome and is able to be their authentic self in the work place. They do not need to hide part of their identity or be someone they are not in order to fit in. When people feel included they contribute their ideas, engage in innovation that supports the mission of the organization and feel a greater sense of job satisfaction.

Here’s a three-minute video on how inclusion feels to employees with diverse backgrounds, needs and interests.

The issues of DEI are complicated and constantly evolving as we learn and gain experience. Thanks for taking the time to learn about these issues. Our next Lunch & Learn will be at noon on Wednesday, Oct. 27.We will discuss the topic of this e-news update ¾ diversity, equity and inclusion ¾ and as always, other topics are also welcome. Watch for a calendar invite and Zoom link to arrive in your Inbox.

Peace and Stay Well,

The Anti-Racism Committee

August 2021

Greetings from the Anti-Racism Committee,

We finished our five-part anti-racism training series in July. Thanks to all who participated and made it such an authentic learning experience! To help us plan our next learning opportunities, we’ll be putting out a short survey to gather your feedback on what you’d like to learn about, the format, etc. Please be on the lookout.

Our next Lunch & Learn will be Wednesday, Sept. 29, at noon, at which we will discuss the topic of this e-news update. (As always, other topics are also welcome.) Watch for a calendar invite and Zoom link to arrive in your Inbox.

This month we’re focusing on implicit bias (also called hidden bias and implicit association). These terms describe our attitudes about people and things that we are not aware of -- they’re buried in deep in our unconscious.

  • Everyone has implicit biases/associations regardless of their race, gender or national origin. Most are formed in childhood, but we continue to accumulate them throughout our lives. For example, if we hear “peanut butter” we probably automatically think “jelly” even if we don’t like peanut butter and jelly and never have eaten it. The association has been seared into our minds through advertisements, school lunch menus, TV sit-coms -- you name it.
  • While peanut butter and jelly is a harmless association, other associations, especially about groups of people, can be negative and harmful. For example, studies confirm that both students and teachers associate girls with language and boys with math and science. This steers girls away from math and science classes and makes it harder for girls who do pursue these fields to find mentors and secure funding for research.
  • Here is an 8-minute video showing how individual biases/associations affect group assumptions and behaviors.
  • Multiple studies have found that people with high levels of implicit bias against Black people are more likely to categorize non-weapons as weapons (such as a phone for a gun, or a comb for a knife) -- and they’re more likely to shoot an unarmed person in computer simulations. Check out this brief article from Scientific American, “Why We See Guns That Aren’t There.”

Knowledge Is Power! As we learn more about our own implicit biases/associations, we can take an active role in countering social stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination. Please join our next Lunch & Learn on at noon on Sept. 29 to discuss implicit bias with your co-workers and explore other areas of interest. Zoom info to follow soon!

July 2021

Hello Everyone,

This is the first of what we plan to be a brief monthly email from the Anti-Racism Committee. We will use it to share information about some aspect of racism we are learning more about and any upcoming events. This month the focus is on systemic racism.

Here’s a basic definition of systemic racism:

Systemic racism is woven into the fabric of policies and practices of social institutions in ways that advantage white people and disadvantage indigenous people and people of color. Social institutions include government, financial and economic institutions, religious organizations and education.

And here are some good and brief resources for learning more about systemic racism:

  • This four-minute animated video shows how systemic racism affects a Black child throughout their life: Systemic Racism Explained produced by act.tv.
  • These quick (less than one-minute!) videos from Race Forward, an organization founded in 1981 that approaches complex race issues in innovative ways, look at systemic racism through the lenses of housing discrimination, infant mortality, the wealth gap, employment and other areas: https://www.raceforward.org/videos/systemic-racism
  • We like to think of Vermont as a place of equality that is mostly free of racism, but like everywhere else, racism is embedded in our institutions in ways to which white people often are blind. A recent traffic stop study from UVM that analyzed six years of data found that racial profiling of Black people has continued unabated despite marijuana legalization and years of attempts at police reform. If you are not a person of color you may not realize this unless you read the data gathered by police departments and outside researchers.


-- Best wishes from the Anti-Racism Committee