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Local Black History Month Events

Paij Wadley-Bailey is one of 20 Vermonters featured in the photo exhibit “I Am Vermont Too” at the Vermont Statehouse in February. Courtesy photo.
As Vermonters delve into Black history this month — reminded that Black history is American history —  two central Vermont events come to mind: the “I Am Vermont Too” exhibit at the Vermont Statehouse, and a new workshop series about becoming actively anti-racist.

I Am Vermont Too

“I Am Vermont Too,” a photo exhibit coordinated by Sha’an Mouliert, is on display at the Vermont Statehouse until Feb. 25. Mouliert has worked on this project with BIPOC Vermonters since 2016, creating a collection of photographs of self-identified individuals of color living and working in Vermont. Shela Linton, the executive director of The Root Social Justice Center, started the project in 2014. 

This latest show consists of 20 photographs that focus on the “intersectionality of our communities of color and their stories regarding microaggressions and racism,” according to a press release about the project.

Each subject of a photograph was asked to hold up a piece of paper or white board and write out a microaggression or a racially explicit comment they have experienced while living in Vermont. These expletives might be responses to terms, questions, or statements that were made toward these individuals that undermine who they are as people of color — or perpetuate racial stereotypes.

Only 5% of the people of the Green Mountain State are people of color, and many say that they often feel excluded, lonely, or singled out in the communities where they live. This exhibit shares some of these experiences firsthand.

Find out more at therootsjc.org/i-am-vt-too.

Becoming Actively Anti-Racist

After the George Floyd murder in 2020, self-described white Montpelier therapist Ivy Zeller and her longtime white friend and writer Gail Marlene Schwartz started self-educating about racism in America. With the help of Dr. Lillian Gibson, an African-American psychologist who specializes in racial trauma, they spent nearly two years developing the workshop series “Start Here: Becoming Actively Anti-Racist,” starting in March.

They describe the workshop series as a beginning step for people interested in becoming anti-racist, or, as Schwartz put it in an interview, “what it means to be white in a white supremicist culture.”

In a Front Porch Forum post inviting neighbors to the workshops, Zeller and Schwartz wrote: “With the professional consultation of a BIPOC colleague who specializes in racial trauma, we designed a program or ‘toolkit’ for white people beginning their anti-racism journey with the goal of developing qualities and skills necessary to be an effective ally. During this 12-week biweekly workshop series, we will introduce six of the tools and combine discussion, activities, and homework in between sessions to facilitate learning.”

The program is “specifically for people who are just beginning,” Schwartz said. “That’s an important detail. … This is developing skills that are going to make doing the work (of being an ally) more effective and more competent.”

In describing the intention behind the workshop series, Zeller noted “it is not people of color’s responsibilities to take care of us, to educate us to fix it … the burden is on us.”

The workshop registration deadline is Feb. 20. Zeller and Schwartz request a $60 donation for participating in the series of seven workshops taking place between March 6 and June 12, but say “no one is turned away for lack of funds.” For more information contact  gailmarleneschwartz@gmail.com or izeller@comcast.net. 

Do you know of a local story related to Black history month? If so, contact The Bridge managing editor at editor@montpelierbridge.com to propose it.