By Raising Black Lives Matter Flag, Montpelier High School Rightly Shines Light on Systemic Racism
The Montpelier School Board’s unanimous approval of a student-led effort to hoist a Black Lives Matter flag for the month of February is an important step in acknowledging the systemic racism experienced by students of color, according to the president of the state’s largest union.
The following statement can be attributed to Martha Allen, a school librarian from Canaan who serves as president of Vermont-NEA, which represents 14,000 teachers and support professionals in every public school in Vermont.
“The first step in rooting out systemic racism is to acknowledge that it exists. I am humbled by and proud of the work done by Montpelier High School’s student-led Racial Justice Alliance for beginning this conversation among students, teachers, staff, parents, and the community. The students who are leading this effort are changing perspectives among their peers, reiterating that students of color face a far different world than their white counterparts.
“Systemic racism and implicit bias have plagued our nation for centuries, making a mockery of the American assertion that all people are created equal. Yes, we are all human, but, for hundreds of years, Americans of color have suffered greatly because of the ravages of racism that are long-standing and systemic.
“In flying the Black Lives Matter flag, Montpelier High School is officially saying that bias exists. I am encouraged by this step, and am glad to see that school officials are actively addressing with teachers, students, and staff the experiences of students of color who uniquely bear the brunt of our nation’s systemic racism.
“I want to congratulate the hard work by the students of the Racial Justice Alliance, who put it exactly right when they said, ‘We will raise the flag with love in our hearts and voices.’”