Black Lives Matters flag a banner of hope in Vermont

This editorial appeared in the Burlington Free Press, Vermont.

The raising of the Black Lives Matter flag at Burlington High School should serve as a banner of hope in a time when our society seems so divided over race. The BLM flag should be seen as a call to recognize the everyday racism, big and small, faced by people of color in the community, and as a call to have the honest discussion about race that needs happen throughout the state.

Those who shout back, "all lives matter" in response to the Black Lives Matter banner deny the very real racism that is the daily reality of many black and other people of color, even in Vermont. Those who smear Black Lives Matter as a movement of racists and terrorists are merely reflecting their own hate triggered by having to confront their privilege.

The Black Lives Matter has never been about placing black lives above all others.

Violence against police has never been a part of the mainstream movement.

Stray calls to "kill cops" recorded at a few massive rallies hardly represent the vast majority who seek justice and an end to racial violence.

The Black Lives Matter movement is a plea in the face of evidence that the dominant culture in this country continues to devalue the lives of black people.

Burlington is flying the Black Lives Matter flag as part of an observance of Black History Month, joining Montpelier High School, which began flying the flag on Feb. 1.

At both schools, flying the flag was the result of student-led efforts. Students at Burlington High School said they were inspired to petition the School Board for permission to fly the banner after attending the flag-raising ceremony in Montpelier.

The Burlington High School student resolution reads, in part, "By raising the BLM flag, we are asking the board to support all of its students. This is an opportunity for the Burlington community to unite to show where our moral compass points: toward progress."

The students at Burlington and Montpelier high schools understand the importance of saying out loud something as basic as a public school being a place where every student is valued and respected.

The student-led efforts to raise the Black Lives Matter flag give hope that youth will continue to lead the way.

 

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Pat Richardson, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, retired Day editor Lisa McGinley, Managing Editor Tim Cotter and Staff Writer Julia Bergman. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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