Beginning the Journey of Dismantling White Supremacy Through Education & Self-Inquiry

Over the past few weeks, business leaders across the country and world have expressed allyship with the BIPOC community and have publicly committed to the complicated task of dismantling white supremacy and racial injustice.  However, bringing this vision to fruition does not end with a company statement or social media post, but involves a long journey of self-inquiry and understanding of systemic racism, followed by action and significant structural changes.

VBSR internally began this journey last week. We feel late in doing so, but have been both heartened and challenged by the meaningful discussions with staff, board members, and member businesses on race, equity, and justice as well as how VBSR can stand in solidarity with the racial justice movement and work to tear down systems of oppression.

To that end, VBSR board and staff will continue our dialogue and hope to inform this transformation by educating ourselves on issues such as white fragility, internal and external biases, and the many forms privilege we as Vermonters experience. Right now that includes a reading of “Me and White Supremacy” by Layla F Saad and a series of facilitated discussion groups to unpack all that we’ve learned.

This is just a first step in understanding at the individual and organizational level the totality of white supremacy and recognizing the layers of “White Fragility” that present themselves in our work. We want to encourage VBSR members to implement similar programs to encourage individualized education alongside group discussion and processing.

Education and self-inquiry are only the beginning of the long road ahead to collectively dismantle racism.  In a recent piece in the Washington Post Tre Johnson warns,

The right acknowledgment of black justice, humanity, freedom and happiness won’t be found in your book clubs, protest signs, chalk talks or organizational statements. It will be found in your earnest willingness to dismantle systems that stand in our way — be they at your job, in your social network, your neighborhood associations, your family or your home.” 

A lot more work is needed than reading and discussing a book, but understanding these issues is absolutely necessary to make intentional, lasting change.

For book ideas, check out Dismantle Collective’s White Allyship 101: Resources to Get to Work and please consider supporting these independent Vermont bookstores and VBSR Members:

Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center
Phoenix Books, Burlington, Essex, and Rutland
Vermont Book Shop, Middlebury
Yankee Book Shop, Woodstock