How can all-white municipal government be ‘diverse’?

BRATTLEBORO — It was deeply disturbing to hear a member of Brattleboro's decidedly homogenous, all-white Selectboard declare that even though the town has no employees of color, he considers town government “diverse.”

I'm not going to try to parse what he meant by that. As a person of privilege, I admit to frequent stumbles in how I talk about race and diversity. In fact, I'm anxious about writing this letter lest I appear to be trying to speak on behalf of people of color from my white, middle-class position - an act which it itself would be one of white hubris.

What I do want to say: The fact that our town government staff and our police department are 100 percent white is hurting us as a community.

When we raise children who do not see people of color around them as teachers or public officials, we make it difficult for them to become citizens of the world. And when people of other colors, religions, and ethnicities do not see themselves in this community, they are less likely to want to become part of it.

So, as Vermont continues to age, we are turning aside those who would bring new thinking, ideas, growth, and business.

To consider our all-white institutions “diverse” is nothing short of delusional. It's engaging in some kind of white magical thinking that brought us separate-but-equal, gerrymandering, and vote suppression.

As a nation of immigrants, our strength comes from our diversity. We are doing no one any favors by failing to create a community that reflects the world and the nation around us.

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