Vermont Humanities

Kesha Ram and Delma Jackson: What Does Race Have to Do With It?

Fast food worker with fried chicken on shelves

“I honestly don’t want it to take a predator in the White House and a Black man having to die on national television for nine minutes and 28 seconds for us to get to this point,” says Vermont State Senator Kesha Ram.

The day after the verdict in the Derek Chauvin murder trial was announced, the Center for Whole Communities in Burlington hosted a discussion between Senator Ram and Delma Jackson, the co-host of the Dive-In-Justice podcast.

In this episode, they read Langston Hughes, ponder the murder of George Floyd, talk about the writing of W.E.B. DuBois, consider the Kake Walk tradition at UVM, and discuss the work to be done to remove barriers for BIPOC Vermonters.

Photo of Kesha Ram by Ben DeFlorio

Episode Transcript

Kesha Ram: So our state is not white by accident. And why can’t we face our xenophobia and our racism? It’s coming. It’s a delayed reckoning. We have a chance to do better maybe than other states have because we should be able to learn from these other states. But that takes a lot of will of white Vermonters to recognize this as a problem, even with how white our state is.

Welcome to the Portable Humanist, the podcast where you can listen to Vermont Humanities talks and learn when you’re on the go. I’m Ryan Newswanger.

The day after the verdict in the George Floyd murder trial was announced, the Center for Whole Communities in Burlington hosted a discussion between Delma Jackson and Vermont Senator Kesha Ram titled, “What does race have to do with it? Barriers to civic engagement and equity in Vermont.”

The event was part of the “Why it Matters: Civics and Electoral Participation” initiative sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Federation for State Humanities Councils. ​

Senator Ram serves Chittenden County, where she is the first woman of color and youngest woman in history to have a seat in the State Senate.

Delma Jackson is an activist, facilitator, writer, counselor, and lecturer with the Center for Whole Communities. He co-hosts the Dive-In-Justice podcast with Shadiin García, which you can find at and wherever the best podcasts are found.

Here’s Delma.

Delma Jackson: I wanted to open up by sharing a piece at the suggestion of my co-conspirator here, Kesha. I definitely think it’s appropriate for the time we’re in. I love and hate the fact that it’s written so long ago, but still so deeply relevant to right now. This is a piece from Langston Hughes called Let America Be America Again.

Delma: “Let America be America again. Let it be the dream it used to be. Let it be the pioneer on the plain seeking a home where he himself is free. America never was America to me. Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed. Let it be that great strong land of love where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme that any man be crushed by one above. It never was America to me. Oh, let my land be a land where liberty is crowned with no false patriotic wreath, but opportunity is real and life is free. Equality is in the air we breathe. There’s never been equality for me, nor freedom in this homeland of the free.

Delma: Say who you are that mumbles in the dark, and who you are that draws your veil across the stars. I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart. I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars. I am the red man driven from the land. I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek, and finding only the same old stupid plan of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak. I am the young man full of strength and hope tangled in that ancient endless chain of profit, power, gain, of grab the land, of grab the gold, of grab the ways of satisfying need, of work the men, of take the pay, of owning everything for one’s own greed.

Delma: I am the farmer bondsman to the soil. I am the workers sold to the machine. I am the Negro servant to you all. I am the people, humble, hungry, mean. Hungry yet today, despite the dream. Beaten yet today, oh, pioneers. I am the man who never got ahead. The poorest worker bartered through the years. Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream in the old world while still a serf of kings who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true. And even yet, this mighty daring sings in every brick and stone, in every furrow turn that’s made America the land it has become.

Delma: Oh, I’m the man who sailed those early seas in search of what I meant to be my home. For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore and Poland’s plain and England’s grassy lea, and torn from Black Africa’s strand I came to build a homeland of the free. The free? Who said the free? Not me. Surely not me. The millions on relief today. The millions shot down when we strike. The millions who have nothing for our pay. For all the dreams we’ve dreamed and all the songs we’ve song, and all the hopes we’ve held, and all the flags we’ve hung, the millions who have nothing for our pay, except the dream that’s almost dead today.

Delma: Oh, let America be America again. The land that never has yet been. And yet must be the land where every man is free. The land that’s mine. The poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, me. Who made America? Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain, whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain must bring back our mighty dream again. Sure, call me an ugly name you choose, the steel of freedom does not stain. From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives, we must take back our land again, America.

Delma: Oh yes. I’ll say it plain. America never was America to me. And yet I swear this oath. America will be. Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death, the rape and rot of graft and stealth and lies. We the people must redeem the land, the mines, the plants, the rivers, the mountains, and the endless plain. All, all the stretch of these great green states and make America again.”

Delma: Thanks for bringing that back to my consciousness, Kesha. I appreciate that. It’s been a long time since I read that one. So thank you.

Kesha Ram: I didn’t want to sort of overexpose you from the start, but it felt like just the only way to start was to hear your voice, and through you to hear Langston Hughes’ voice. And the conversation about humanities. And I know that all I could do when I woke up today was look for poetry and the words and art of others to sort of get myself through the day. So just appreciating you, and thank you.

Delma Jackson: I woke up unexpectedly angry. And maybe I shouldn’t have started off my day listening… The minute my alarm goes off, my Alexa is set to start reading me, or playing the latest episode from The Daily, right? And so today they happened to be talking about the trial and the verdict. And one of the guests named the fact that we’ve lost someone to police violence in this country every single day since the trial started. I didn’t bother diving into the demographics, but I think we’re all, hopefully most of us at least, are familiar with how those patterns tend to play out. And I’m sorry for the loss of any life obviously.

Delma: But yeah, I’m grateful for what the verdict might mean for the Floyd family, specifically, as a step in the direction toward healing. I couldn’t help but think about the young lady that I was just killed in Ohio. I couldn’t help but think about the young man that was just gunned down in Minneapolis while the trial is still going on. And I can’t help but wonder about all of the unnamed cases that have not even come to our public consciousness yet. And yeah, there’s a rage there that I’m trying to, not for the first time and not for the last time, hold and grapple with.

Delma: And I think Langston Hughes’ piece holds both of those, right? This idea of let America be America again. And there’s an idealism that he speaks to while simultaneously acknowledging the fact that it’s never been that for him. And Kesha, I think you mentioned just a minute ago something that you had also been holding around Du Bois’ work. And I’d be curious to hear, if you don’t mind, I’ll put you on the spot a little bit, I’ll be curious to hear more about that.

Kesha: Yeah. I mean I think without really articulating it this way, I turn to the humanities and history a lot for touchstones and guidance. And the other thing that I’ve really been sitting with today that’s been grounding me is excerpts from W.E.B Du Bois’ The Souls of Black Folk, which I highly recommend to folks. And I think around the same time that he published that, he put out an article in the Atlantic in 1897, that kind of centered around double consciousness. And double consciousness being the idea that I think once you sort of speak it plain, it feels so obvious, especially if you’re a Black or brown person.

Kesha: But it’s the idea that Black Americans particularly walk around thinking constantly of how they perceive themselves, but how others perceive them. And particularly how white people perceive them. Because how white people perceive them in that moment, or systemically, could mean their livelihoods, could mean their access to opportunity, and in many cases could mean their lives. And so they’re constantly having to, as he would say, measure themselves by society’s tape in terms of what is someone perceiving of me right now.

Kesha: And so you start to become so conscious of how you’re being perceived and how white people work. And they may have no idea how much work particularly Black Americans are going through to survive by engaging with that double consciousness. And that double consciousness eventually becomes two selves that you live with, and that starts to eat away at your soul. And one of the most poignant things he says in that piece is, “Although you have these two selves, you wish for them both to be able to grow old.” That was in 1897. I mean, of course when probably the life expectancy for Black Americans was far worse, although it has not improved that much. And folks may know about, you can go three T stops away in Boston, and have a difference in life expectancy of 30 years because of the differences in wealth and treatment of Black Americans. Because not much has changed.

Kesha: And it also made me think about my life and role as the daughter of an Indian immigrant, as the kind of ambiguously brown woman. And not to say that we don’t, and in fact I think this relates to how artists often operated as well, having multiple layers of consciousness so that they can see reality through different people’s lenses. But I’ve often, I think finally, been able to say that being a light-skinned brown woman in this country also feels like a triple consciousness of recognizing that I will never be afforded certain privileges and experiences for white people, including my mother. But I will never know the depth of pain and subjugation that Black Americans face either. And so living in this kind of interstitial consciousness of knowing what I have and what I don’t have, and what power that still gives me to do something has been sort of what I’ve been sitting with a lot today.

Delma: I think the other piece that’s coming up for me a lot right now is what does it mean to move through the world in a cis gendered male body, and being able to recognize the privilege that comes with that, right? There is a privilege to that. And I have to be cognizant of that, even as I understand what it means that this male body is also Black, right? And so to your piece around I’ll never know what it means to move through the world in a Black body, I never know what it means to move through the world as a woman, to be perceived as a woman, and all of the things that come with that. And so when I think about the humanities in particular, anybody who knows me knows how much I love lit, particularly science fiction. That’s my jam, right? And one of the things I think I appreciate is the space that sci-fi creates to imagine, and to take what already is, and imagine into something different.

Kesha: Yeah. If I could sort of build on that. Bridgerton was a terrible show in my book. So I’m just going to put that out there. But if anybody watched it, which I did the whole thing, one of the nice sort of things is that a lot of Black and brown people don’t get that level of escapism where, because of the color of your skin, something bad is not about to happen to you around the corner. And I feel like that has been more and more true, thankfully.

Kesha: And it’s actually, I mean, we’re talking about this being the platinum age of television, as we’re all consuming a lot of Netflix, et cetera, where other people are being allowed to tell stories that aren’t about just their pain. And that actually hit home for me. Of course the Humanities Council is represented here. And a book that was really important to the Humanities Council this past year was The Hate U Give. Which is an incredible book for young adults about Black pain and a young man dying at the hands of the police. And his young, Black female friend sort of being the narrator and the one to pick up the pieces after that.

Kesha:  And I was working with Essex High School on unpacking that film after many people had read the book. And pretty much one of the only Black staff members at Essex High School just said, “I just don’t want to talk about this book. I just don’t want us to always be focused on Black people getting killed, and Black pain, and voyeurism into Black pain as the way that white people learn.” It was before we had to relive George Floyd dying for nine minutes and 28 seconds over and over again, over and over again on television. And I say, we, but I don’t really mean me. I mean, it shouldn’t take that once a year or whatever nonsense for white people to wake up. Because if it does, that’s a lot of Black suffering that white people need to consume to change.

Kesha: And I’ve been reflecting a lot on that. Because as a brown woman, again, with a white mother who prides herself in never having gotten a ticket, a moving violation, et cetera. Three days after George Floyd was murdered, was the first time she said to me, at my age of 33, she said, “You’ve had a different life experience because of the color of your skin. And because I married an Indian man, and you look different.” And it took George Floyd’s murder for her to say that to me. And it was incredible for me, but it was that instant feeling of guilt. That that’s what it takes for even those who love us and know us for that long to see that pain.

Kesha: And yet a good friend of mine today who’s organizing a May 25th George Floyd remembrance and reflection day, she said, “The only thing I can appreciate about that video being out there, and even though it’s causing so much pain of Black Americans, is white Americans just can’t say they don’t know anymore. There’s just no saying I don’t know.” I’m often asking people, “Do you not understand, or do you not agree?” And now I feel like if you don’t agree, fine. But you do understand. It’s there. I wish George Floyd was alive today, but that is what his death has given at least our country, the inability to look away.

Delma: Yeah. One of the thoughts I had this morning was reflected back from what you just said. And basically, we all had to witness someone being, in effect, very publicly lynched. And instead of a noose, it was someone using their body weight, and placing a knee on someone’s neck. But it comes down to forced violent suffocation and death. And America had to see basically a smartphone camera based modern day lynching in order to get… And still, and not only did we have to see it, but I think you had to have that coupled with the sort of national organizing that we had in order to maybe push folks toward the conviction, right?

Delma: So anytime it’s anything less than a lynching, then we are still going to have to wonder whether or not we’ll get justice. And that is infuriating to me. It’s infuriating. When I did my work for my master’s degree, it was looking at this. It was basically a deep dive into the combination of academia, medicine, and pop culture as institutions that co-created a story that we cannot legislate away, right? And that’s why history keeps repeating itself because of the stories we continue to tell ourselves about what it means to be of a certain color. Baldwin has this quote that I really love. He said, “The country’s image of the Negro, which hasn’t very much to do with the Negro, has never failed to reflect with a kind of frightening accuracy the state of mind of the country.” Right? If you want to know where the country is at any given time, look at their pop culture. Look at the images they’ve created and perpetuated. And that quote to me was so on point.

Delma: And in doing my homework for my thesis, it was like, I did not fully appreciate the ways in which, whether it was Robinson Crusoe or Marco Polo, these folks who I was taught to admire for their contributions to Western civ, what was left out is what they had to say about the folks they were encountering around the world. And the meaning they made of what they looked like, how they spoke, how their culture was different from the author or the narrator’s culture, and what meaning was made from that.

Delma: And from there we get into, if I jump ahead a bit, America’s first form of stage productions that weren’t borrowed from Europe were blackface minstrels. What does that mean? That that is what you created as your first contribution to pop culture, is you putting on blackface paint and telling jokes and singing and dancing for mass consumption. Just a couple of years after you invent radio and it becomes popularized, to this day, the most popular radio program in history is still Amos and Andy, which is basically a minstrel show on the radio. I hope the pattern is clear as I’m speaking. You understand?

Kesha: Well, I just want to add, it’s so much a part of Vermont history too. I mean, the Kake Walk at UVM was so hard to get rid of. And in fact a lot of people say, “Oh no, they changed it to green face.” Which is like, okay. But also pictures were black and white then, so it was like dark green, and still looked Black in pictures. And then there was so much protest they went back to blackface.

Kesha: And I sometimes remind the baseball fans in the legislature that Jackie Robinson was on his way to Vermont to try and end the Kake Walk, this minstrel show that happened at UVM. And his plane got grounded in New York and he never made it. It was when the first Black student body president, who knew Jackie Robinson, was trying to get him up here to end the Kake Walk. It took another 10 years. And I still hear people to this day talk about how much they miss the Kake Walk. You find a Kake Walk poster in people’s house.

Kesha: I honestly don’t want it to take a predator in the White House and a Black man having to die on national television for nine minutes and 28 seconds for us to get to this point. I’m still struggling with how did we get here, where people are finally acknowledging the pain, that what they think is fun and games and art has caused other people. And they’re finally willing to let it go and not hold onto it so tightly. That’s just happening right now, I feel like.

Delma: Yeah, when we present half the picture. The Kake Walk piece, for instance, I imagine, and I think you’re speaking to this, at some point it becomes removed from its origins to the point where people are willing to fight to keep it who may not be willing to do so had it been presented in its fullness to begin with, right? Not that something wouldn’t, right?

Delma: And I’ll just say this last thing too, right? So we come out of radio, and then 1911 is where Hollywood comes online. And by 1915, their first feature length motion picture is Birth of a Nation. And that is where we go from singing and dancing to dangerous. That is the foundation of the story that I am inherently criminal and dangerous and violent and superhuman. So I have to be cold in effect. And then that gets picked up.

Delma: And like I always tell folks, even if you’ve never got into law, even if you’ve never got into science and academia where some of these ideas also took on life, pop culture, the humanities, the arts, that is the great unifier. That is the one where most of us are going to bump into these ideas over and over again, even if we don’t touch some of these other pieces. And so it is both promising in its power, but with that comes, to quote Spider-Man right, that with that power comes great responsibility. And we have been historically not only irresponsible, not only negligent, but we have been tyrannical, demoniacal, right? And you can’t legislate that away. You can pass all this stuff in the world, but if we don’t tell a different story, then we’re going to keep seeing the same dynamics play out over and over again.

Delma: I have a question for you. And I imagine I know the answer, but I will not presume. Do you consider yourself, in effect, a hopeful person.

Kesha: Somebody was saying to me today, “Wow. You really hit the ground running in the Senate.” I said, “I’m running. I don’t know if I’ve hit the ground.” So I really feel like that describes my current state of being. The work is too urgent. There is too much to do to sort of stop and worry about myself and the egotistical part of whether or not I’m effective, or giving myself hope every day. At the end of yesterday, it was obviously such a gripping day, I felt so many emotions in my body. Just couldn’t unclench. And then around 9:00 at night, these students from Castleton College, mostly Black students, sent me a picture. And they had just started an NAACP chapter at Castleton College in Rutland. And I had made a little video for them to just say, “I’m here when you need me. I’m here.”

Kesha: And what I often will tell young people is that I feel like if I say they give me hope, then I’m giving up in a way. And sort of like take it from here. It’s up to you now. And that’s really unfair to them. And I know what that feels like as a millennial. We thought we were giving candid a raw deal. Watch out for Gen Z. They are angry, and they deserve to be. And I got so angry when people say, “Oh, you give me hope.” It’s like, well, what are you doing? And so I tell young people they give me courage. Because I need to make this world better for them. I need to flank them. I need to make the path easier for them to walk so that they can get further. And so this hope. I’m like, what are you doing just sitting around having hope? For me, I want courage. I want us all to know that we have work to do. We can’t place our faith in somebody else or someone else. As Alice Walker would say, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

Delma: Yeah. I appreciate that.

Kesha: How about you, Delma? How are you feeling on the hope scale?

Delma: On the hope scale. I consider myself largely an optimist. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say with that comes the assumption that there has to be in some escapism that informs that optimism. It ebbs and flows. Honestly, it ebbs and flows. I’m in my early 40s right now, and I think the older I get the better I get at naming where I am at any given time. And so when I opened up the call and referenced my rage, it helps to acknowledge it. Because if I can’t acknowledge it, it’s going to bubble up in ways that don’t feel useful.

Delma: And then I’m all too aware of what happens when I have rage that I express outwardly. I’m all too aware of what the world has to say about me specifically and embodying what I look like. I don’t have the leeway to just have a fit in public, right? There are consequences to that that will impact my three children. And so, yeah, ultimately I’m hopeful, but there are definitely days where it’s harder to be in that space. And it feels like a wheel that we just keep spinning on.

Kesha: Yeah. I know we want to open it up to questions. And I think the last thing I’ll say is I’ve been thinking a lot about the word humanity. We’re talking about the humanities. And it’s just like we’re talking about public safety and policing in one of my committees in Senate government operations. And they’re like, “What if we had an office of communications or an office of this or that?” And I’m like, “I need police humanity.” I don’t know what else to call it. I don’t know how to tell people to stop killing other people. I need some humanity. So I’m just sitting with that. If you say you care about the humanities, you’re part the humanities, what’s your responsibility in this moment to actually… As my friend, Rajnii Eddins would say, “Past whiteness is humanity.” How do we get there?

At this point in their conversation, Delma and Kesha took some questions from the Zoom audience, moderated by Ginny McGinn from the Center for Whole Communities.

Ginny McGinn: So there’s another really good one here. Why does Vermont seem to have such a denial of its own racism and xenophobia? How can we keep pushing the conversation that can lead to change?

Kesha: Because it’s the whitest state in the country. I mean, because unless something is staring you in the face and saying this is painful and this is what you’re doing, we don’t see it. And now we are seeing it. And we have actually done a lot in Vermont’s history to render invisible people of color, right? So we were one of the last stops on the underground railroad. We had fugitive slaves who came here and worked on farms. We had the Black population double at the turn of the century with the arrival and the departure of the Buffalo Soldiers. We had major figures in history who were Black Americans who left, and felt that they couldn’t get what they needed from this state.

Kesha: And we literally tried to erase people with eugenics, and being an intellectual center of eugenics. So people should watch the SNL skit about Vermont, and about how it’s the white promised land. It’s painful. It’s hilarious, and it’s painful because that was the point. There are, as some folks may know, real estate videos, recruitment videos. Come move to Vermont. We want people like you. Racial covenants. Covenants that are anti-Semitic. Vermont was built and promoted as the white promised land. And that meant that it was very inconvenient if you had people of color here who were settled as farmers, et cetera.

Kesha: And we have very high profile cases right now before the Human Rights Commission, one of the only multi-generational Black owned farms, where they have been harassed by the local state troopers. And former Representative Kiah Morris who was harassed to the point of leaving Bennington. Got no relief, had to leave the county. I feel like there is an underground railroad all the time in Vermont right now. I’m not sure if people know that. I help people who feel unsafe in their counties move to Chittenden County. And often when they get to Chittenden County, it’s better. They feel less visible. But it doesn’t go away and they leave the state. So our state is not white by accident. And why can’t we face our xenophobia and our racism? It’s coming. It’s a delayed reckoning. We have a chance to do better maybe than other states have because we should be able to learn from these other states. But that takes a lot of will of white Vermonters to recognize this as a problem, even with how white our state is.

Delma: I think reckoning with the history that Kesha just laid down is a big part of that. I think young people should be intentionally exposed to that sort of information about Vermont’s history. And if I can zoom out just a little bit, I think the Northeast period has this idea of itself as a liberal bastion, when there’s plenty of history to kind of combat that. Not just history. I mean, I did notice that the vote for Trump went up when he ran again in Vermont. And that’s very telling, right? More people voted for his reelection than they did his election in Vermont. Right? I think history has shown us its very easy to be liberal until those people show up at your door, right? It’s kind of like, we all want solar and we all want wind, but we don’t want that thing in our backyard, right? It’s that same kind of dynamic. Yeah, Vermont was cool with people of color until masses of them started showing up. And then it’s like no, you got to go. You got to go.

Ginny: Thank you. And I’m going to take us to this question. I’m going to read it. It’s a long one. Thank you Liz Curry for this one. I’m curious about your thoughts on whether we’re entering a time when you see ways, or we can, I’m guessing, build anti-racist communities outside of our dominant white culture’s historical patterns of legal action as the only way to get an ounce of racial justice in the form of lawsuits against educational institutions, police officers, and departments, Title IX, et cetera. So I’m hearing this as the structural solutions alongside the cultural, and what are ways we can continue to build anti-racist communities outside of white dominant culture.

Kesha: I mean, it’s so hard to read that question without thinking about the fact that that young Black men make up two and a half percent of the population in Chittenden County, and 25% of those charged as youthful offenders. So for whatever legal victory we get, it’s a whack-a-mole for hundreds of horrible things happening that build a pattern that we, at some point, can’t ignore. And I think the legal system is a really important part of the solution. I have never really thought about it as the way to build anti-racist work definitionally.

Kesha: I also don’t think policy work is necessarily the place to do that. There are a lot of people, right now we have this conversation in committee about reparations. And I believe in reparations. I believe we need to get there. But the truth part before the [inaudible 00:35:51] is really critical. And in fact, not just for white people to finally understand why reparations is critical, but for Black and indigenous people to come together and get healing out of whatever happens, right? So we in the legislature can’t dictate what that looks like. What form would reparations take? Who would be eligible? What harms are we trying to repair? We don’t answer those questions well in the political or legal system.

Kesha: In fact, the arts and humanities are better at helping us answer those questions. I look to thinkers in the state like Emily Bernard, local author, to help answer those questions. I look to indigenous healers to help answer those questions. I don’t look to my colleagues in the legislature. And no knock on them, but I think what we’re in the process of doing right now is trying to take resources and get them to people who’ve been exploited. I mean, that’s what I said in committee today. We have built our anti-racist community efforts on the unpaid labor and the emotional taxation of so many people of color in the state. That needs to stop.

Delma: And I think when I consider what reparations could be, a big part of that is I need space with other people who know what it is for us to figure out what we need. I don’t need anybody else to figure that out. We have the expertise. Give me the resources, and then leave me alone. That’s what I need. When I think of reparations, I need land and some resources, and I don’t need nothing else from y’all. I don’t. We will figure the rest out. And I promise you, within a generation or two, we could be the envy of the world.

Delma: And while we’re figuring that stuff out on our own and creating healing spaces and kind of leaning both into the past and into the future to heal, because I’m a big proponent of both old school practices, but I also love my technologies and my creature comforts. And I want it all. I want it all. So I need the resources to be able to do that. And I think we can make a strong case for why those resources should be supplied. No problem. And I want us to see my indigenous brothers and sisters in on that conversation. But while we’re doing that work, there’s this other piece that needs to be happening simultaneously around reconciliation amongst the white population in this country. Because if white supremacy is still needed, than that speaks to a deficit of spirit that needs to be addressed and can only be addressed amongst white America.

That’s Delma Jackson, writer and podcaster, in conversation with Vermont State Senator Kesha Ram.

Thanks for listening to The Portable Humanist. Visit our podcast website at portablehumanist dot org for a transcript of this episode, and for more information about Vermont Humanities.

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Author Tim Wise

Author Tim Wise on “Our Nation’s Blinkered History of Itself”

Tim Wise, one of the leading anti-racist writers and educators in the country, gave a stirring keynote presentation at the St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Burlington for a ceremony remembering the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Duke Ellington at the piano

Daybreak Express: Reuben Jackson on Duke Ellington

Many Vermonters know Reuben Jackson as the host of Vermont Public Radio’s Friday Night Jazz. In this episode, Jackson shares some evocative Duke Ellington recordings, and discusses Ellington’s love for trains. He also describes the Ellington orchestra’s work in the segregated United States. 

Girl in front of old car during Great Migration.

How the Great Migration Changed American History

In the early 20th century, black southerners fled racial violence and sharecropping for steady work in northern cities like New York and Chicago. But these migrants still faced challenges once they arrived. In this talk, Dr. Harvey Amani Whitfield explores the Great Migration and its great influence on American history.

Author and professor Catherine Sanderson

How to Boost Your Psychological Resilience in a Crisis

Audio: Amherst College psychology professor Catherine Sanderson examines what research in psychology tells us about how adverse events – such as a global pandemic – can lead to some positive outcomes.

Speakers Delma Jackson III and Kesha Ram

Kesha Ram and Delma Jackson: What Does Race Have to Do With It?

The day after the verdict in the George Floyd murder trial was announced, the Center for Whole Communities in Burlington hosted a discussion between Senator Ram and Delma Jackson, the co-host of the Dive-In-Justice podcast.

Jason Broughton and Laura Jiménez

Let’s Talk Antiracism

Dr. Laura Jiménez joins Vermont State Librarian Jason Broughton to examine ways to lead effective discussions centered on diversity and antiracism.

Making Rumble Strip in My Closet

Erica Heilman’s podcast Rumble Strip covers a range of Vermont-related topics, from mental health, hunger, and homelessness to deer hunting, cheerleading, and donut shops. In this talk, Heilman discusses the interview process and shares stories from her podcast, which she describes as “extraordinary conversations with ordinary people. Or that’s the goal.”

Two women with National Suffrage Association banner

Meg Mott on the 19th Amendment

To kick off our Fall Conference 2020, professor Meg Mott considers two visions for the women’s suffrage movement, and describes the path to the 19th Amendment.

Political science professor Meg Mott with the Constitution

Meg Mott on “The Glorious Occupation” of Citizenship

We speak with Meg Mott—political theory professor, constitutional scholar, and the moderator at Putney’s town meeting—about the ongoing threats to Vermont’s town meeting tradition.

Vermont Humanities*** May 12, 2021