I felt compelled to write because of several letters I read in last week’s issue of The Bridge. I am a white person, and so reading letters that undermine the Black Lives Matter movement and the current moment around race we’re in, I did not personally fear for my safety. However, I can imagine, being Black, it would be hard to read opinions that mute the message of BLM and detract from it. Specifically, “Open Letter to Officers” and “Re: Black Lives Matter on State Street” exemplify the kind of white defensiveness that disrupts the strides toward social justice we are trying so hard to make. I understand that the newspaper should give a place for all opinions, and that is a necessary part of our media being as unbiased as possible. However, when those opinions would likely cause a minority group to feel less supported and safe in a community, I have to express my concern. What is the message you are sending to your Black readership?
Alexa Gould-Kavet, Montpelier
Proud of the Black Lives Matter Mural
One of the Montpelier Bridges’ readers called the 20-foot-high “Black Lives Matter” letters painted on State Street in Montpelier “vandalism.” The word, meaning the destruction or defacement of public property, is derived from the Northern Germanic tribe, the “Vandals” who contributed to the fall of Rome. I grew up in a “not racist” household. I have heard now, in this Black Lives Matter movement that we (particularly us white folks) need to be “antiracist.” We cannot be silent if we want justice, if we want peace. I’m tired of injustice: climate injustice, economic injustice, voter suppression injustice, health care injustice, gender injustice, racial injustice. Laws and policy have created and supported racism, particularly against Black people since the 15th century. Changing laws and policy are what will actually make our country “great.” Changing public attitudes are what will force law and policy makers to change the unjust, profiteering, discriminatory, violent laws and policy that create insufferable conditions for people of color in this country. I’m very proud of these letters, and I’m proud of Montpelier, and of Vermont, where a Republican Governor gives his blessing to this strong message painted in front of the Statehouse, amid government buildings, where laws and policy are made. I’m a law-abiding citizen, but if this is the modern-day, unjust “Rome” that has to fall, then I’m with the “Vandals.” Black Lives Matter.
J.C. Myers, Maple Corner, Calais
Digital Technology and Lack Thereof During COVID-19
Although being deeply grateful to have a smartphone the last couple or few years (along with federal government-funded monthly phone, text, and data service through the Lifeline program), and currently being able to afford high-speed wireless internet and at least having online access in that fashion; given that public access computer sites like the Kellogg-Hubbard Library as well as the Vermont Center for Independent Living or other places within Montpelier or elsewhere have been closed due to COVID-19 restrictions for a while now, it has sometimes proved to be rather difficult not having access to use of a computer laptop or tablet when needed; neither of which devices I have had my own for several years now (my last laptop died years ago and my tablet became nonfunctional not long after).
Most people are probably unaware that what I manage to do online these days is done typing away using a single finger on the screen of my little smartphone with its tiny virtual keyboard, which seriously limits what I am able to do and takes a lot of energy and time to accomplish. Heck, even when I had access to a computer or laptop, I was real slow. Now, I am even slower at getting anything done and it is very time consuming. It is then no wonder that I get drained and exhausted so easily these days.
There are those who seem to think that I should be able to do much more, including writing as well as activism as I once did years ago (which I had to discontinue, in part due to no longer having the tools or resources needed; but also to attempt to take better care of myself as well). However, without use of a computer or tablet, it is not possible for me to do anything beyond what little I have managed up to now with somewhat limited means.
That said, I am certainly well aware that I am not alone in this either. In fact, there are others in even greater need and who are far more deserving than myself. Truly.
As someone who lives with disabilities subsisting on a very low income, and with it looking like Vermont’s “Stay home, Stay safe” order could likely be in place for the foreseeable future or so it would seem, however, it would definitely be helpful if there was a program available that potentially would freely provide brand new or hardly used high-quality laptops or tablets to those in need like myself and others.
All that stated, I am not complaining, nor seeking pity, merely wishing that myself and others in need could manage to have access to the digital technology and online devices that would make things both easier as well as better on our end.
Morgan W. Brown, Montpelier