Flemming: Reconsidering race after Keith Longmore’s removal from St. Albans BEI Committee

Editor’s note: This article was updated at 10:52 a.m. Tuesday.

By David Flemming

Time and again I’ve heard government officials preach to Vermonters about the importance of prioritizing diversity and inclusion. Tragically, our liberal government officials all too often fail to live up to this vision that that they insist all Vermonters should adhere to.

Keith Longmore

Keith Longmore

A few weeks ago, the St. Albans City Council voted to remove Keith Longmore from St. Albans’ Belonging, Equity, and Inclusion (BEI) Committee. It seems the Committee did not make this decision on the basis of Longmore’s race (he is black), but because they believed Longmore’s presence was “obstructionist” and at odds with the Committee’s ability to “advance the inclusive vision that all are welcome.”

Longmore thought differently. After being informed that he had been kicked off the BEI Committee, he remarked, “This is without a doubt the most egregiously racist, age-ist thing to ever happen to me in Vermont.”

While Longmore did object to some items during the May 10 BEI meeting, it becomes abundantly clear upon watching that meeting that Longmore was offering constructive criticism, rather than obstructionist comments.

Take one moment during the meeting. St. Albans’ city government had asked the Committee to give their input about a Juneteenth banner for the city’s celebration. Longmore’s immediate reaction can only be described as a willingness to help. He begins, “I’m on the Downtown Board Committee (for the city of St. Albans) … I know that they’re absolutely on your side and want to see it happen … they’ll welcome any input or engagement.”

One of the other committee members wanted to go further. Reier Erickson, BEI Vice Chair, and also a black man, informed the Committee, “I want to see on the Juneteenth down here. I want to see the Juneteenth flag and I want to see a sign that says Black Lives Matter (BLM). Easy enough, we’re gonna stand up for Juneteenth and I think we should celebrate the day when black lives kind of started mattering a little bit.”

Longmore: “I don’t know if I’d go that far, but…”

Erickson: “I move that as the BEI committee we propose to the city (of St. Albans) that the Juneteenth banner include the Juneteenth flag as well as Black Lives Matter…

Longmore: “The BLM flag is going to matter. The Juneteenth flag will be no issue, but the BLM flag is going to upset some folks.”

Erickson: “Then it’s going to upset them…”

Longmore: “I would think very carefully about that … all lives matter, indeed they do.”

The BEI committee then chose to pass the motion with Longmore’s vote being the only one against.

While it would be impossible to draw any meaningful conclusions in such a setting as a BEI meeting, Erickson’s clear ideology espoused throughout the BEI meeting makes him especially susceptible to unconsciously adopting the liberal paradigm and treating Longmore unfairly.

A 2018 study Self Presentation in Interracial Settings by two Ivy League psychologists found that white liberals are more likely to “patronize minorities stereotyped as lower status and less competent” than white conservatives. Across five studies, white liberal Americans consistently used dumbed-down language when interacting with black Americans versus white Americans, in campaign speeches and in everyday speech. White conservative Americans did not.

We should also remember that it is not exceptionally unusual that a black person would object to government support of Black Lives Matter. Vermonters are 94% white, and 1.4% black. If Vermont follows national trends, we can expect 17% of black Vermonters to not support Black Lives Matter. That comes out to between one or two thousand individuals. Should voices like Keith Longmore’s be excluded simply because they are a minority of a minority?

Black Lives Matter goes far beyond merely making sure black lives start mattering. A recent statement on the BLM website reads, “We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children.”

Black children living with their mother and father can expect a similar standard of living to white children in a similar situation. The inequality only starts to become extremely abhorrent when looking at the outlook for black children living outside a stable two-parent home.

Second point. A large portion of Vermont’s population believes that racial issues are an important part of a complete American education. In a pinch, nearly all Vermonters would choose Black Lives Matter racial propaganda over white supremacist racial propaganda, whether it be promoted by our government or taught in school classrooms.

But most decent Vermont folks realize that neither option is ideal. We need a more nuanced (and truthful) understanding of American racial history. And Longmore is closer to the best option than all of those on the Committee who voted to include the BLM symbol on the Juneteenth flag.

We can honestly appraise the past and present of racism in America while not denouncing America as the worst country in the history of the world, as BLM is wont to do. Longmore’s eagerness to promote Juneteenth falls squarely within this vision. The St. Albans City Council can start this process with an apology to Longmore and by reinstating him to the Belonging, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this commentary incorrectly stated that Erickson is white and that Longmore was the only black member on the St. Albans BEI Committee.

David Flemming is a policy analyst for the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Image courtesy of Keith Longmore

5 thoughts on “Flemming: Reconsidering race after Keith Longmore’s removal from St. Albans BEI Committee

  1. Like Larry Elder, Mr. Longmore is now the black face of white supremacy in Vermont.

    • Wrong think – the good man had been cancelled.

      More and more progressives prove that they indeed are the haters!

  2. Belonging, Equity, and Inclusion (BEI) Committee. Hmmmm.
    Sounds more like politically motivated virtual signaling than a necessary organization. Certainly a waste of time and money.
    I’d suggest eliminating this committee, and all like it, throughout Vermont.
    And then in the rest of the United States…

  3. Just another case of liberal nonsense when you don’t adhere to their agenda,
    even though Keith Longmore is a man of color, they don’t care and you don’t
    have a voice or if you try to voice your opinion …… well this is what happens !!

    Wake up, people you don’t matter to these fools, agenda, agenda, agenda.

  4. “We need a more nuanced (and truthful) understanding of American racial history. ”

    OK, here’s a start: After George Floyd (a convicted felon) died of a fentanyl drug overdose (official autopsy result – he also had serious heart issues) BLM fanned the flames (literally). The 8700 “mostly peaceful” protests between May 25, 2020 to July 31, 2020 resulted in at least a billion $ in damage and more than a few deaths. Hundreds of small businesses were destroyed.

    Since then BLM has garnered hundreds of millions in corporate donations while Black on Black murders have increased 40% over the 10 year average.

    The Burn Loot Murder co-founders (admittedly “trained Marxists”) have used the money to purchase 2 mansions in the US and Canada worth 12 million $.

    Apparently BLM doesn’t think anything except money matters at all.

    Anyone who would support this lawless mob of grifters has at least one screw loose.
    The St. Albans City Council should be deeply ashamed by their action.
    Mr. Longmore should be applauded for his courage and reinstated.

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