Race & Identity

Peter van Agtmael / Brattleboro Literary Festival

When Baltimore born and raised Alia Malek entered law school in 1997, she wanted to be an Arab face helping people of all groups defend their civil rights.

The NBC studios sign at night in Manhattan, that also says Rainbow Room and Observation Deck.
canbedone / iStock

Saturday Night Live made some fun of Vermont last weekend, with a sketch featuring a group of Southern white nationalists who discuss where to find a “Caucasian paradise.” The skit contrasts Vermont’s liberal, bucolic image with some uncomfortable realities, and was welcomed by people inside and out of the state.

Teal, blue and orange speech, thought and chat bubble cut outs on a bright green background.
hunkmax / iStock

What are the main concerns of women in Vermont and which of their needs are not being met? Those are some of the central questions the Vermont Commission on Women is asking residents in a listening project that's been going on for several months.

Headshot of Kiah Morris in the Vermont House chamber.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR File

Former Bennington Rep. Kiah Morris may be departing the Vermont Legislature, but she says her work on racial justice issues in Vermont will continue.

Rep. Kiah Morris at a podium in March speaking about racial justice legislation
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Bennington Rep. Kiah Morris has resigned her seat in the Vermont House of Representatives, saying family health problems will require her to “focus on caring for and supporting my family.”

A row of three empty chairs set up at a table with microphones for a panel.
onurdongel / iStock

Vermont branches of the NAACP will hold their first-ever candidate forums in Rutland and Brattleboro this weekend, but most of the major-party nominees invited to participate have chosen not to attend.

Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan stands before a microphone.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR File

The Vermont Attorney General’s Office has taken over an investigation into allegations of racial harassment against a sitting state lawmaker in Bennington, amid criticism from racial justice advocates over local law enforcement’s handling of the case.

Bennington Rep. Kiah Morris, right, withdrew from her reelection campaign last month. Morris says racial harassment in her home district became too much for her family to bear.
Emily Alfin Johnson / VPR file

Many Vermonters were shocked last month when the state’s only African-American female lawmaker announced that, after years of racial harassment, she was withdrawing from her re-election campaign.

Tabitha Pohl-Moore, the Vermont director of the NAACP, was less surprised.

nzphotonz / iStock

I’ve been wondering if we may be promoting a stereotype that no longer reflects the reality of a contemporary, inclusive Vermont – even perhaps contributing to some of the racism we’ve seen lately, like the public attacks on Bennington Representative Kiah Morris and her family, or the incident at a Stowe youth camp where racist remarks left children shaken and afraid.

A sign that says RESTROOM in capital letters and then in braille. White text on a black sign.
Screenshot from Vermont Division of Fire Safety, Courtesy

A new state law requires all single-stall bathrooms in Vermont to be labeled as gender neutral, but one state official said many business owners don’t seem to have gotten the news.

Democratic candidate for governor Christine Hallquist introduces herself to a prospective voter in Barre last month.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Many Vermonters say Christine Hallquist’s victory in the Democratic gubernatorial primary is already building visibility for the transgender community.

Michael Bensel took over as executive director of the Pride Center of Vermont on Aug. 1. He's also one of the organization's founding board members.
Pride Center of Vermont, Courtesy

As of Aug. 1, the Pride Center of Vermont has a new executive director. Michael Bensel took over as head of the organization, which advocates for LGBTQ Vermonters.

A group of Democratic senators have introduced a bill on Tuesday that would require the U.S. census and the country's largest survey to start directly asking about sexual orientation and gender identity.

If the Census Equality Act becomes law, sexual orientation and gender identity questions would have to be added to forms for the census by 2030 and for the American Community Survey — a survey that about 1 in 38 households are required by federal law to complete every year — by 2020.

The town of Brattleboro has been removing posters that were allegedly put up by a neo-Nazi group based in the South.

Megan Monday

I’m a white person living in a predominantly rural, white state, and a queer mother, doula, writer, organizer, educator, and facilitator living in perilous times.

Jasmine Bazinet-Phillips stickhandles in hockey gear on a rink surface while another player watches
Jasmine Bazinet-Phillips, Courtesy

Among the teams participating in this weekend's 11th annual Hockey Fights MS Vermont Tournament is the Brown Bears — a hockey team from out of state that's made up almost entirely of women of color.

Henry and wife Joanna Weinstock shared their story with VPR's Ric Cengeri.
Ric Cengeri / VPR

Jericho's Henry Weinstock survived the Nazi occupation of Belgium during World War II before coming to the U.S. with his father in 1946. The son of a secular Jewish family, he credits his survival during the war as much to the compassion of Belgian nuns as to sheer luck.

Ron Chernow’s biography on Ulysses S. Grant is long – and for good reason. The big moments in Grant’s life span nearly 20 years, from the start of the Civil War in 1861 to the end of his presidency in 1879.

Julie Jacobson / AP

When I heard that the Miss America Pageant was ditching its swimsuit competition, I thought … it’s about time.

Fred Tuttle, left, and Jack McMullen squared off in a now-notorious debate during the 1998 Republican primary.
VPR file/Tim Johnson, VPR

Twenty years ago a political debate on VPR pitted a retired dairy farmer against a Harvard-educated Vermont newcomer in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate. We're looking at back on the Tuttle-McMullen debate, how it affected the 1998 election and what the debate says about Vermont politics and values.

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