We held our monthly full staff meeting recently at the Vermont Center for Independent Living. At every staff meeting we pause to honor with a moment of silence those who have died within our movement. We say their names out loud and reflect on how they impacted our lives.
This month the list was a bit longer as we honored those who have died from hate over the past couple of weeks. Specifically we paused to honor those who died from an anti-Semitic person who killed people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
We say their names here as we are deeply saddened but more so angry. We honor these people who were living their lives and, just for the fact they were Jewish, were shot down:
We also honored Maurice Stallard and Vickie Jones, both shot down for being black this past week in Kentucky. The racist murderer tried to enter a predominantly black church and, after being thwarted by a locked door, went to a grocery store specifically to kill black people.
Lately, so much hate has filled our news, TV, social media sites and conversations.
We are in solidarity with those who are moving beyond statements and bringing attention to these awful acts and those who are calling these events what they are: hate crimes, specifically crimes against Jews and blacks.
We are in solidarity with those working to combat hate on a regular basis.
We are in solidarity with those who want to cry out against those using their public platforms to create a more hate filled society. We are in solidarity with those having real conversations about how to change this world.
We ask that each of us who are neither black nor Jewish look within ourselves to find ways that we may have been silent and thus complicit in the face of racism and anti-Semitism, and look for ways to support our black and Jewish neighbors.