To the Editor:
As members of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion task force of the Lake Champlain Waldorf School, we were concerned to hear of the finding of the Vermont Human Rights Commission that Dr. Lydia Clemmons of the Clemmons Family Farm experienced discrimination on the basis of race and sex in her dealings with the Vermont State Police.
Our school has had a long association with the Clemmons Family Farm as neighbors and fellow educators. Our students have benefitted from the expertise, wisdom and gifted teaching of the educators and artists at the Clemmons Family Farm.
We unequivocally offer our support to Clemmons, the Clemmons family, the board of trustees, staff, and volunteers of the Clemmons Family Farm. Their safety should be our first concern and our collective responsibility. We also want to do all we can to help this organization continue its important work of preserving and sharing African American and Africa diaspora art and culture, and conserving a historic Black-owned farm property here in Vermont.
We feel called by our commitment to educate for positive change in the world to offer the following hopes:
• We hope that this finding will remind us of the racism embedded in our systems that harms real people and communities we care about.
• We hope that together we can confront the myth of Vermont exceptionalism. Vermont is a wonderful place to live for many of us, and racism has always been a problem here as in other places. We are stronger and truer to our Vermont values when we acknowledge this. In this state, we know how to face hard things together.
• We hope that our elected officials, public servants and other officials will commit themselves to examining how bias creates barriers to equity, and make the changes needed to create a fair system for everyone.
• We hope that this report will call us together as a community and lead to new awareness, shared understanding and restorative actions.
• We hope that schools, as places of education and transformation, can take a special role in the work of restorative justice.
We commit ourselves to working in partnership with others toward a better version of the Vermont communities we love.
Jason Frishman, Erin Baker, Tucker Pierson, Lilly Cartularo, Travis Elliott, Abigail Diehl-Noble, Rebekah Hopkinson
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force
Lake Champlain Waldorf School