During the pandemic, all people experiencing homelessness were housed in motels with state money. This provided stability and shelter for people making them actually feel like people cared. According to one person experiencing homelessness, “for once someone was actually doing something, instead of just saying something”
The Motel Program should have been used as a bridge to end homelessness, investing in housing to transition people directly from motel to housing. Instead, people are sleeping under bridges again. On July 1st, 700 people were forced out of the program.
On September 23rd, (Thursday) 500+ more people will be kicked out including families with children. There is no reason for this program to end, except that the Governor doesn't have the political will or compassion to change course. Let’s push him to.
Please share this document with students or administration who can forward it to students at your school. We need youth to take action!!
As a group, we’ve taken the past few weeks to take a step back and refocus on what our goals for the coming school year are. As we took the time to reexamine our priorities, we’ve come upon issues that have been on our minds since the beginning of this group. In full transparency, our leadership group is flawed. We recognize that, as an anti-racist group, it is unfortunate that we don’t have students of color in the forefront. This is due to not enough outreach on our part and also to our own hesitation, as we do not want to pressure anyone to take on this responsibility. Tokenization is a topic that has come up in many of our discussions and one we work to avoid. Our group welcomes diversity, and it’s for that reason that we’re taking an active step forward to reassess our leadership group and make some important changes for the coming year. We want to break down the old, stiff definitions of leadership roles and instead create a nurturing, comforting environment where everyone feels represented and safe. An all-white leadership team is not that.
As we engage in this work, we feel it important to acknowledge the presence of history within the functioning of our group. We acknowledge the racial history of this country and its legacy today: slavery, lynching, black codes, police brutality, immigration restrictions, nativism, economic inequality, etc. Racism has deep roots in our country, and we are often blinded from the truth by it. We must acknowledge this history and purposefully choose the truth if we are to move forward. We also must acknowledge how our racial biases today exist because of the history of racism in America; for example, redlining, wealth inequality, and the War on Drugs lead to biases of poverty and criminality. Only through this understanding can we affirm our obligation to change, both within our society at large and VSARN. We must truly strive to change the course of history and work together across racial lines to reach liberty in our generation. But this will take everyone joining the movement. As we acknowledge the everyday experiences of young BIPOC Vermonters in our schools, we feel it of utmost importance to transform the roles of students within our group to better address those issues. We call on white people to self-reflect and share the history and present reality of racism with those who need to hear it; we open space for POC to share their experiences, feel support, and feel safe to call for change. We need to understand how white people have always been at the top of the hierarchy and how this legacy persists today; if we truly want to make change, we have to knock this down. That’s why, as we move into the new school year, we need to restructure our group and bring in new voices. We aim to build and foster a group that accurately reflects the world we wish to see: one where people of color can speak out and lead for change, white people can support from the side-lines and put themselves out to educate other white people and emphasize the truth, a world where we recognize and remedy the past and together build a better future. When white students and students of color work together they can accomplish more. Students of color are able to share their experiences of racism and oppression while white students can work with other white students to work through the reality of white privilege, utilizing the power society unjustly affords white people to call for change and deconstruct that power and to speak out for equality. White people have an obligation to be aware of their power and privilege and how to use it; when a biased incident or racist incident occurs, they have a responsibility to step in and rewrite the future. We want to create an environment where white students and students of color can work in harmony using their individual strengths and talents to work towards a common goal.
In our future, we want to make it clear that we are always learning. We’re open to constructive criticism and feedback. Remember, we’re only an email away. We will be working to dismantle the current divide apparent between our leadership team and the rest of the group, taking vital steps forward in order to diversify and reinvigorate our group. Again, we invite all of you to use your voices and give us suggestions, comments, or highlight concerns you might see in our group. Our goal is to make everyone feel at ease, and if anyone feels uncomfortable, upset, or confused when working with our group, that is a problem that we will work to solve.
Thank you for your understanding. We look forward to working with all of you this coming year. As Lao Tzu said, “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”
Please email email@example.com with any ideas, questions, comments, or concerns. Furthermore, look for an upcoming email with details for fall meetings. We won’t be meeting this week but we will be meeting in the next couple weeks for our kick-off fall 2021 meeting!