Pondering racism and Brattleboro’s capacity for change

BRATTLEBORO — Susan Odegard's essay is a missing piece of my personal puzzle on racism and a reminder to us all how important it is to continue sharing our experiences. I believe the more we learn from one another, the better equipped we will be in our fight.

I recently found myself thinking about Donald Trump and his supporters, pondering what might happen if he doesn't get the Republican presidential nomination. “Will it be safe living in Brattleboro?” I asked myself. “But if not here, then where?”

To answer these questions, I decided to take a long-overdue walk around town to get reacquainted with the pulse of where I have lived with my family for over 30 years.

Strolling down Canal Street, I had breakfast at the Flamingo Diner. I remembered when the Pink Flamingo was a clothing store on Elliot Street and this diner was called Jad's.

With Trump still on my mind, I read The Commons and noticed Odegard's essay. I took a deep breath and decided to read it - if for no other reason than to validate the importance of my getting the pulse of the town. With all the Trump supporters out here, ignorance is not bliss.

To my unexpected relief, the essay was not only very thoughtfully written but also provided a new perspective on our ever-changing views on racism.

Midway through the article, sipping my second cup of coffee, I realized I was crying. I teared up for the writer and for the children she described. I wondered what horrific stories my grandbabies might be writing about in their future.

Finishing the essay, it became evident to me that it was a much-needed missing piece of the puzzle on racism and why it is so complicated. Yet, it's undeniably an important part of the big picture when exploring the root causes of racism.

I paid my bill and left feeling better equipped to view my community with my new set of eyes.

It's indisputable that downtown Brattleboro has changed a lot over the years. Yet I still hoped I would find the main pulse of our community intact.

To my delight, I crossed paths with people of different races and ages, with many sharing smiles, salutations, and well wishes.

I praised the local merchants for their willingness to share their space, displaying posters of upcoming events that continue to enrich our community. I found several that I planned to attend.

Making my way home, recognizing that racism is everywhere, I reminded myself that I can't predict the future.

“Today, I am happy to be a member of the Brattleboro community,” I told myself. “I feel hopeful and believe that as long as we continue cultivating the principles of 'It takes a village to raise a child,' we will always have a greater chance of making change and minimizing the widespread effects of racism within our community.”

Because if not here, then where?

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates