John Klar: Shelburne Farms’ wokism trades former goodwill for newfangled quasi-religious ideology

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Located on the shores of Lake Champlain, Shelburne Farms was founded in 1886 as a model agricultural estate using money from railroad magnate William Henry Vanderbilt. The 1,400-acre property was later designated as a National Historic Landmark District in 2001.

Vermont’s Shelburne Farms has exploded in wokism, trading the venerable goodwill and history of that establishment for a newfangled quasi-religious ideology. This is more than a betrayal of public trust — it is a slanderous denigration of Vermont, and a betrayal of the supposed farming education purposes for which this nonprofit was created.

Shelburne Farms, a 501(c)(3), now offers race-based curricula and materials. While pretending to be an organization advancing farming, in actuality it has become a center for ideological profusion. This raises the issue of using public funds through tax subsidization in a way that may run afoul of constitutional law.

This would, of course, include overt racist policies: the Equal Protection Clause applies to all people of all races. Yet Shelburne Farms is now offering a series of workshops for BIPOC people only: “Healing the Roots of Racism in Ourselves for BIPOC” is closed off to “people of no color.”

As stated on its calendar page:

This series is for the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) community. This series creates space for healing from white supremacy culture and transforming anti-Blackness within ourselves, toward healing our webs of relationships, organizations and societal structures. In this series participants will practice a creative combination of healing practices ranging from embodied awareness to movement, reflection and writing. Join this series to rediscover, relearn, and reimagine in our current crisis-driven reality.

Shelburne Farms further states the series, which runs monthly February through July, centers on “the reclamation of, and reconnection with, our bodies, our places, our ancestors, our beyond-human kin, our cosmologies, and each other through the mirror of natures.”

Shelburne Farms is only interested in “reconnection” with Abenaki ancestors — it has devoted its full resources to denigrating Vermont and its history. This farm’s true history, and how the current Shelburne Farms board of directors has re-written that history to fit an ideological narrative that is patently false, is a betrayal and abuse to be addressed in a subsequent commentary.

In the course materials offered to BIPOC people only, Vermonters will be taught about race by an “expert,” Richael Faithful. According to a personal website, Faithful — who was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Virginia — “is a multi-disciplinary folk healing artist and healing justice practitioner rooted in the African diasporic tradition of conjure. … Faithful supports national and local activists of all backgrounds, particularly leaders of Black Liberation movements. They are known for creating spaces to help activist identify and process trauma and invest into healing justice frameworks. ”

This nonprofit is incorporating religious training in its seminar. And note there is no “separate but equal” facility for whites to be enlightened with “conjure.” It’s a BIPOC-only seminar.

The event page directs attendees to first complete a survey as part of registration.

This registration process is your first invitation to reflect on healing from white supremacy culture. Give yourself time to answer the questions during the registration process (link below). If you’re completing the registration form on someone else’s behalf, answer n/a to the questions and we’ll follow up with the registrant.

But neither Shelburne Farms nor any of its social justice ideologues have yet established evidence of present-day white supremacy in Vermont — it is presumed. Moreover, Shelburne Farms is a nonprofit accountable to state and federal law — it is the organization’s burden to prove the truth of what they allege and invest taxpayer money to achieve.

Shelburne Farms doubles down in this race-based “workshop,” which reveals to Vermonters that their tax dollars are being invested to undermine their rights and constitution, while disparaging them falsely.

Shelburne Farms exploits the Vermont name for its sales, while heinously denigrating the culture and people around which its legacy has been built. This is far worse than appropriating a Native American name for a sports team!

There is no “race healing” going on in these workshops, in my view — only new harms being committed by a quasi-governmental entity.

John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield. © Copyright True North Reports 2022. All rights reserved.

Image courtesy of Public domain
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17 thoughts on “John Klar: Shelburne Farms’ wokism trades former goodwill for newfangled quasi-religious ideology

  1. This ignores the enormous strides that the U.S, and especially Vermont, have made in overcoming bigotry. Wokeism creates and atmosphere in which any of an individual’s failings can be attributed to inherent racism. That people who’ve had opportunities beyond that of many of us are nevertheless told that whatever they’ve achieved or obtained, or failed to so do, is marred by an undeniable racism.
    Furthermore, both this nation and the state of Vermont were founded on the struggling of people across racial and economic lines.

  2. Does anyone else see the irony and hypocrisy in a piece of land originally purchased with rich mobil oil money from the Webbs and Rockefellers now going woke? My father worked on the farm when i was a kid and we lived in a small worker home there. I can remember friday afternoons they’d close the gates to the public and have horseback fox hunts…talk about pre-colonization European. Who’s on the board of trustees? How much $ and privilege do they have? It should be clear to everyone by now efforts such as these are detrimental for race relations in our country. What are the genetic qualifications to take the bipoc classes? 1/8th, 1/16th, 1/32nd, 1/64th, a dark sun tan???

  3. Go woke, go broke. Thanks for the heads up John. I will no longer waste my time or money visiting Shelburne Farms, the Museum, or buy their products. I will encourage others to join me in staying clear of it as well. They obviously do not need our whitey money.

  4. This is what happens when the kids of the Rich Webb family don’t have to work
    to keep their property going. it’s too bad their going to ruin the good name of
    Electra Havemeyer, and J Watson Webb and their offspring who did so much for
    Shelburne and the surrounding area’s. Hopefully these ‘woke” kids get booted out of
    their supervisor positions after the farm takes a hit from wokeness like Disney, BLM,
    Salvation Army and all the rest of the racist spewing entities. The farm has done much
    good in teaching stewardship and animal education but this direction will move it right
    into the lake…

  5. They will be praised by woke Vermonters for their “courage” in setting up this racist “affinity group” scenario. If they had instead proposed a symposium on fraud in the 2020 election, there would be bills voted on in Montpelier tomorrow to revoke their non-profit status. If someone really wanted to challenge this bias as a civil rights infringement, they could show up as a white person but claim to “identify as”…

  6. If this woman is an employee of Shelburn Farms she can be charged with discriminatatory practice agains non-BIPOC people under EEOC Title IV guidelines.

    • and someone should do it…………totally out of control…if everyone were invited would be diff story……..

  7. CRT is inherently racist.

    In this, they follow along the lines of eugenics thinking: we must separate out those among us who are defective and ensure they don’t contaminate the rest of society.

    Eugenics: so-called imbeciles, idiots, and morons are a threat to society and they must be sterilized.

    In Germany and elsewhere, this evolved into a racist philosophy: the Jews are subhuman and must be eliminated.

    CRT: white people are a threat to society and their thinking must be eliminated (sterilization “for the greater good” next?)

    It’s time to call out this deeply racist and eugenicist philosophy for what it is: racist and eugenicist.

    It’s also deeply irrational, yet (non-white) Chinese and Indian societies had highly evolved philosophies and cultures. But we’re to throw these out because everything that’s reasonable and follows logic is a supposedly a white man’s trick? No? Then what? Either you believe in reason and logic or you don’t; CRT finds it convenient to criticize these as just tricks from white folk.

    The Kafka trap: if you disagree with what we say then that proves that what we say is true. CRT: if you disagree with what we say then that proves you’re a racist. No, it doesn’t.

    CRT is a fantasy philosophy that has much in common with eugenics: it wants to separate out elements of society and impose improvements on them, against their will.

    How about we learn to be tolerant and respectful of each other instead of putting on our race glasses and seeing the world through those?

  8. As a native Vermonter, it’s thoroughly disgusting & sad to see the false repagination of Vermont’s commendable history through the distorted lense of Shelburne Farm Museum’s sudden “woke” nonsense. They don’t deserve their “museum” designation.

  9. So all PONOC (People of No Color) are being openly discriminated against by a 501(c)(3) with 48 followers?
    Is that even legal?

  10. A series of workshops for BIPOC people only, and closed to “…people of no color…?” Complete with a confessional survey before registering? Really?
    People, is this what your tax money is going to support? This is nonsensical!
    Shelburne Farms used to be a nice place to take your kids on a summer’s day, and you didn’t mind helping to support and maintain it with a portion of your tax dollars, or the slight smell of cow dung on your tour. But, now it’s become a temple to BLM with a prophet folk healer of dubious integrity?
    Screw that!
    Skip the Shelburne Farms for the kids this and every other summer–let it return to farmland again because the cow dung is now plentiful in their management’s front office.
    Take the kids to Visit the Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium in St. Johnsbury, VT, instead. The Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium is a combination natural science museum, history museum, and planetarium located in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. It was founded in 1890 by businessman, politician, naturalist, and collector Franklin Fairbanks. And everyone is welcome. Including no color people like me, though I consider myself the color of “The Heart of Oak.” The museum and its buildings are also on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Support a Vermont tradition that is positive, and pass by the manure that’s piling up on Lake Champlain…

    • Mark,
      I respectfully disagree, I love Shelburne Farms. It is my favorite place to visit and to bring family/friends that come to Vermont. I don’t wish to boycott it and hand it over to the “woke” crowd. I suggest we reclaim it and our tradition of farming in Vermont. John Klar, I believe you should attend this class and help them come to their senses or get them to shut it down.

      • Jackie,
        Once the Shelburne Farms and Museum dump the ‘woke’ management that initiated the ‘BIPOC Only’ workshops and degradation on the site, and the fine tradition you allude to has been reinstated, then I’ll reconsider. Until then, my family, friends and I are not going to visit. There are other venues that support the traditional values of Vermont that I would rather support.
        Let Shelburne Farms stew in their own manure pile…

  11. OH, but we missed another nugget of WOKE-ism

    The “Facilitator ”

    “Richael Faithful (Rish-elle, they/them/theirs pronouns) is a folk healing artist from the African diaspora tradition of the U.S. South, called conjure. Faithful supports spirit-work for and with land, nature, and meaning of place through ritual, storytelling, and other majik.”

    It appears from their OWN description that They/them is also practicing African witchcraft.

    BLM has invoked some of the same African witchcraft in a video they posted in 2020 , they openly talk about incantations to raise the spirits of their dead ancestors to help them ” in their struggle”

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