Alliance Legislative Updates and Webinars




From the Desk of The Vermont Racial Justice Alliance Alliance Coordinator

Throughout the course of the COVID-19 Pandemic the Racial Justice Alliance Steering Committee has been meeting on a weekly basis.  Much of our work has been focused largely on caring for our communities and working to develop strategy to protect and ensure the socio-economic stability of people and communities of color in Vermont.   Our areas of concern have been far reaching ranging from the challenges that some of our children of color are facing with remote learning to the disproportionate deadly impact the virus is having on communities of color globally, nationally and in our home State of Vermont.  We continue to petition the Corrections and Health Departments to release racially disaggregated data to provide the transparency and accountability required in this time of crises.  It is our hope that these data (an all racially disaggregated data) be posted to enable public viewing and continuously updated.  
 
We are finding many of our constituents to have insufficient access to stimulus and employment development funding. Most black and brown people have no option to work from home and are instead engaged in “mission essential” work.  With higher propensities to contract and die from the virus, they are being called upon to continue to engage in employment that places them at high-risk of infection. We have received numerous reports of concerns surrounding deficiencies in the process whereby which some of our communities are receiving timely information, alerts and updates and changes to the statutes.  With additional newly introduced pretexts for law enforcement to engage community (compliance) combined with an existing culture of disproportionate stops by law enforcement, black and brown community members are increasingly expressing feelings of being less safe.  
 
In short, all underlying life area previously impacted by systemic racism are being further exploited by COVID-19.  Last week the Vermont Health Department released a report outlining the health disparities of black and brown people as a result of the COVID-19 crises.  Today, we released this letter to our State policy makers and leaders, providing specific actions that they should take to address the impact of the COVID-19 on communities of color in Vermont.  What we now know is that the work that we were doing pre-COVID-19 is more important than ever.  Systemic racism must be dismantled.  It is times like these where we see and understand it most and because of that we have a renewed commitment to our #ChangeVermont Legislative Agenda. This is also the time where you can help.  I’ll leave some specific instructions in the “Action Corner”

Solidarity in the struggle,

#StayAlive

Mark


  
Action Corner

We have submitted a letter to the Governor and legislators calling for a Task Force and directed actions to ensure that people of color in Vermont be provided targeted and immediate support and that increased and specific actions be taken in efforts to dismantle systemic racism. Please contact the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the President Pro Temp, the Speaker of the house and other legislators and ask them to take the actions that we have outlined in the letter.  We can’t go back to the old normal

1. all Governor Scott at: 828.3333 or send an email to: https://governor.vermont.gov/email
2. Call Lieutenant Governor Zuckerman at: 828.2226 or send an email to: https://ltgov.vermont.gov/ 
3. Call President Pro Temp Ashe at: 828.3806 or send an email to: tashe@leg.state.vt.us
4. Call Speaker Johnson at: 828.2245 or send an email to: https://speaker.vermont.gov/content/contact     
5. Reach out to any of the Legislators.  Find them here:   https://legislature.vermont.gov/people/

H.464, Use of Force Bill  – Civilian oversight of law enforcement and consistency are critical, particularly in the practice of use of force. We have a petition with over 380 signatures calling for civilian oversight of law enforcement. Please send a note to House Government Operations, asking for an up/down vote on 

H.464.  Here is a group email address for the Committee:  vermont-house-government-operations@googlegroups.com or leave a message for Chairwoman Copeland-Hanzas at 802.828.2228.  

H.284, the Justice System Data – We’ve already proven the effectiveness of proper data collection through our recently released Race Traffic Stop Dashboard. We must have accurate, complete and consistent data if we are to have any reasonable expectation of a government that is fair for all.  Ask the Committee to take additional testimony  Send and email to vermont-house-judiciary@googlegroups.com or leave a message for Chairwoman Grad at 802.828.2228. 

H.478, the Reparations Task Force Bill. The United Nations Human Rights Council, NAACP, ACLU, National Educational Education Association and the Episcopal Dioceses  as well as political figures like Bernie have expressed support for a the Reparations Task Force bill (H.R.40).  H.478 is nearly identical to H.R.40 .  House Government Operations also has this bill. Contact them here: vermont-house-government-operations@googlegroups.com.
It might be a good idea to reach out to the Speaker to make this bill a priority.  Send the speaker an email here:  mjohnson@leg.state.vt.us or leave here a message at 802.828.2228.

S.54, the Cannabis taxation and Regulation Bill. The reparative and social equity components of this bill fall incredibly short, compared to the amazing work done by the policy makers of Illinois. Please contact the Conference Committee and urge them to adopt language similar to Illinois’ approach in addressing racial equity in cannabis regulation.  We have a petition with over 260 signatures that says “No Taxation or Regulation without Reparations”. Here is the Conference Committee. COVID-19 has shined a light on racial inequities like never before.  We have proposed language that we’d like to ask them to reconsider.

* Rep. John Gannon
* Rep. Robert LaClair
* Rep. Janet Ancel
* Sen. Richard Sears
* Sen. Jeanette White
* Sen. Joseph Benning

H.926, the bill related to ACT 250 (land use) This is the first time in 50 years that there has been a major review of Vermont’s landmark land use bill.  There was no mention of land access and equity or environmental justice in what was almost a full year study and report.  Fortunately, we intercepted the bill in the house but it was like jumping on a moving train. This will impact people of color in Vermont for years to come.  We need to slow this bill down and ask that careful consideration be given to placing racial equity and environmental justice at the center of any Statewide land use laws.  You can reach out to the Committee Members of Natural Resources and Energy here


Community Outreach is Now Online!

We have moved all of our community outreach to online.  We will continue to deliver content from the Legislative Series, created to provide a forum to educate community members and gain their perspectives while informing legislator’s policy decisions.  Hidden in Plain Sight:  The Truth About Systemic Racism, is also alive and well and will be delivered on line.  

Here are some of the activities coming right up:



The Intersection of COVID-19 and Race with Racial (Full Webinar)


Why is COVID-19 having lethally disparate impacts on black and brown folks in Vermont and across the nation? From housing, education, employment, health services, economic development and the justice system, the story is the same. Bad. The median wealth of whites was 13 times that of African Americans BEFORE the COVID-19 crises. Black and brown people are contracting the virus and dying at disproportionate rates. The vast majority of black and brown folks are essential workers, employed in the service industry and have no choice but to place themselves in harm’s way daily. Few have the option to work from home. How did we get here and what do we do about it here in Vermont?

Register in advance for this webinar:
https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_KkSTuwE4RRyI9C9LbIWyaw
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar


Eradicating Systemic Racism: How’s That Working Out?

As we now see the accentuated impact of Corona Virus on communities of color, we have learned that eradicating systemic racism must ALWAYS be at the top of our agenda. In 2017 the State of Vermont passed a law that required the Attorney General, the Human Rights Commission and interested stakeholders to “develop a strategy to address racial disparities within the State systems of education, labor and employment, access to housing and health care, and economic development.” How’s that working out for us? It’s time to examine our original premise, look at our progress, consider new realities and forge ahead with this vitally important work. Panelists include Bor Yang, Executive Director of the Human Rights Commission, David Scherr, Assistant Attorney General.

“People of Color have waited far too long for the equality we promise in word but not deed. It is time to remedy that wrong” ATTORNEY GENERAL AND HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION TASK FORCE ON ACT 54- RACIAL DISPARITIES IN STATE SYSTEMS REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Register in advance for this webinar:
https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_uUF3CmduRVyhwsrhLYXheQ
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.



Hidden In Plain Sight:  The Truth About Systemic Racism

The Vermont Attorney General And Human Rights Commission Task Force on Act 54 Racial Disparities in State Systems Report in 2017 indicated that “In addition, and likely related to the income disparities, racial disparities have been documented in each of the areas identified in Act 54 (education, labor and employment, housing, healthcare and economic development).” Until we can gain a common understanding of how and why this is happening, there is limited potential for true transformation. Through personal stories and aided with the research of national experts on the matter, Racial Justice Alliance Coordinator, Mark Hughes unpacks systemic racism from several perspectives and discusses solutions.

Register in advance for this webinar:
https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_A1l_DSAlSHuPjoViJtbujg
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

 About The Vermont Racial Justice Alliance

Led by people of color, the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance consists of both individuals and organizations committed to the work of advocating, implementing and defending policy. Go over to our Web Site and learn about the legislative agenda, all of the supporting forums and panels and how you can become a partner in the work. Take a look at our new calendar on the site to keep up with events as we plan them (bottom of the main page).


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