A letter to the West River Community Project community

Dear Editor,

As some of you may have noticed over the last couple weeks, the West River Community Project unfurled a Black Lives Matter banner that will be indefinitely displayed on the second floor balcony of the West Townshend Country Store. This decision, both unanimously approved by the Board of Directors and the staff of the WRCP, is one very small step that the WRCP can and should take in order to show our solidarity with a critical social movement to fight injustice against people of color and the brutal effects of systemic racism in our nation and in our communities.

Two nights ago, “Black Lives Matter is Racist” was spray-painted in Newfane on Route 30 in our own West River Valley.

Let me be very clear. The Black Lives Matter Movement is not racist – it is a movement intended to lift up people of color in their fight for racial equality. It is a worthwhile movement. It does not mean that anyone else’s lives do not matter. Period.

We must come together to help one another fight off injustice – we cannot undercut other’s efforts. And this type of negativity can and should not be tolerated here in our community.

The fight to end systemic racism in our world can prosper equally with the fight to end economic inequality and poverty. And it should.

In our world, there is much inequality – rich and poor, black and white, male and female, queer and straight. The list goes on. Through its mission, the West River Community Project is endeavoring to fight to increase accessibility to locally grown food, thereby decreasing the impacts of economic inequality. This is a very important task. However, it is not merely enough. The reality is, after hundreds of years of oppression, people of color are still discriminated against in our communities and in our country as a whole. That needs to change.

The WRCP is committed to taking concrete steps to do what we can to fight racism in the West River Valley and globally. Over the next several weeks, we will be sharing those plans to support farmers of color and assist other local, national, and global movements to fight racism.

In addition, we are going to be releasing plans that will help us do a better job of supporting all our community members who are struggling, regardless of their skin tone, gender, or sexual orientation. That is a promise.

We are here with you in this fight, and I for one hope we will be successful, so that we may begin to chip away at the many other injustices and inequalities that are pervasive in our world.

In solidarity,

Drew Clark

Board Member, WRCP

Townshend, Vt.

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