I recently investigated what “work” was proposed to be done by Vermont’s new IDEAL program, funded with $220,000 to increase the work of diversity, equity and inclusion committees around the state.
The chief work appears solely to be to inculcate woke ideology in the minds of more people. I have not been provided with a single example of elimination of racial prejudice or barriers in Vermont municipal or state government — or even of any such barriers existing which must be eliminated. This circuitous logic appears to be the modus operandi of these committees.
Having researched several committees themselves, I asked Vermont’s Office of Racial Equity directly what evidence they have for either accomplishments or goals of their work. Neither Andrea Brett (chair) nor Xusana Davis (executive director) responded to my inquiries. However, Shalini Suryanarayana, Office of Racial Equity’s education and outreach associate, kindly responded.
Xusana Davis has stated that “there is a lot of necessary action that uniquely sits with municipalities.” I asked Ms. Suryanarayana about this alleged necessity for municipal action. Here are my questions, and her responses.
Question: What past examples of “doing” can your department provide relating to existing DEL or similar municipal committees? Have they identified actual examples of government racism that they have identified and eliminated?
Suryanarayana’s response: “There is plenty of data identifying government racism. Two places that can help you learn more about that are the Vermont League of Cities & Towns (VLCT) Equity Committee (for Vermont info), and the National League of Cities (for nationwide information). Another nationwide organization with plenty of helpful data and examples of best practices is the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE).”
Actually, there is no data at all presented at these resources identifying government racism. I presume she is referring to evidence of racial disparities – not proof of racism (though racist intent is imputed or presumed). The VLCT site boasts how its inclusion statement is being adopted by more towns, but contains nothing about what actual work or action is to be undertaken, or what policies must be reformed or eliminated.
The website Government Alliance on Race & Equity, GARE, defines the “work” as spreading ideological conclusions without either proving those assumptions are true, or identifying concrete measures of goals or success.
We will continue our foundational work — the building of a bigger we – so that you, our community of racial equity practitioners working in government, who are transforming the institutions you work in so that everyone can live dignified, healthy, and joyful lives.
…Our foundational work: co-creating interconnectedness, community, and innovation. …. the GARE Network Strategies team weaves together our foundational work – the work of building a bigger we.
“Building a bigger we” would appear to be the work of using state government for partisan advancement. This is also the stated “work” of the Racial Equity Advisory Panel: “The state’s goal is to make equity an intentional part of its work in all sectors.”
GARE claims its core purpose is to “curate and co-create new and advanced racial equity tools and resources for government practitioners” but it does not disclose what those tools are, or how or where they are to be applied, except as “tools” to do the work of spreading the unproven theory that white people are racists.
My second inquiry of Ms. Suryanarayana:
Question: What is it that these committees are to “do”? That is, the actual “work” beyond training that will impact Vermonters and reverse, eliminate, or prevent racist policies or practices? In addition to hiring practices, whatever concrete action is anticipated?
Her response: “The kinds of “doing” that will help Vermont communities move the needle revolve around revising and/or implementing internal and external policies to either introduce ways to prevent bias/discrimination or update existing policies to remove or revise practices that could result in bias/discrimination. Communities involved in the IDEAL Vermont program will be developing DEI action plans that will include things like how to ensure better community outreach and engagement, a reconsideration of how we approach government work, and how to support the work of local community groups/members who are trying to advance the DEI mission, just to name a few examples.
This is not very concrete, and no “practices that could result in bias/discrimination” are identified. Doing the work of supporting the work and approaching the work is not work: it is indoctrination. This is affirmed by Suryanarayana’s additional closing assurance:
I also attached a copy of the IDEAL Vermont brochure from earlier this year. In the short span of time since it was produced, some of the numbers have already changed (like the number of towns/cities that have adopted the Vermont Declaration of Inclusion). We are pleased that Vermont communities are trending in this direction and look forward to supporting our municipalities in this work.
So the work is getting more communities to do the work. The woke work will never end — there will never be a need to prove racist intent, or even identify racist policies, to continue in the work.
John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield. © Copyright True North Reports 2022. All rights reserved.