From Richard Edwards, a Milton resident. In response to graffiti that appeared on the Murray Avenue underpass over the weekend.
An open letter to the residents of Milton, Vermont and the town leadership:
To the cowards that worked under the cloak of darkness to steal a flag and spray paint racist comments while trying to spread your hate-filled message to the town: You are a small, petty person and you will fail miserably to scare or drive mine and other families of color out of this town. We are here to stay, to grow and to prosper despite what you may try and do to us because we are strong.
Milton is the town we chose to call home. We are not going anywhere. I will continue to provide my family with the best leadership and steadfast commitment to teaching them how to deal with beings like you and those like you during these ever-changing times.
The winds of change are blowing. It is no longer the time of white is right.
It is the time of right and wrong, the time of truth and change. It is time for all people to throw off the chains of ignorance and hate, to embrace the fact that no one race, one person, one idea or one dream is better than others.
It is time all people have an equal right to live peacefully in this town, state and country. To be able to drive home without seeing hate filled speech on the wall of our home, to be judged by our deeds and actions not just because you do not agree with our ideas or our skin color.
We will never stop striving to better ourselves and reaching for even greater heights.
I, as a parent, will never stop teaching my children that the feelings that you and others in this town are holding onto are not what life is about and when you leave this earth, as we all will one day, it will be for the best.
Future generations will continue to make positive headway into the future. They will learn how to communicate with each other in a positive and respectful way without bias.
As ignorance is cast aside, more and more of our neighbors and leaders will feel and be dependent on the truth that we are one race, one town, one people connected by the bonds of community with the same goals and purpose in life to make our lives and community that much better than how we found it.
I feel I need to point out the brutally glaring problem we have in this town, and that is we are not a community. We are just a group of people that live near each other and this is directly owing to a solid lack of leadership in the town starting at the very top and working all the way down the leadership ladder.
I feel its time for Milton’s leadership to start giving more than just lip service to the families of color in this town. On issues that affect people of color we strongly expect our leaders to speak out against injustice and racism every time it rears its monstrous head in our town.
Leadership should stand resolute and strong shoulder to shoulder with the members of this community that happen to be people of color. They should stand with us in the face of hate and ignorance to show others the truth — that by only working together can we achieve greatness for our community and ourselves.
Unfortunately, that is not what people of color have encountered in this town. We get half-hearted actions and words with no weight or conviction behind them. We get showings to protest just to say you were there not because you believe in your heart that its right, but for votes and so you can tell people look, I was there.
People of color are not a badge to be worn upon your chest to show others that say "look I am a good person I am not racist.”
The leadership in Milton shows us people of color and our families that you only care about your white constituents and their lives, their business and their interests all the while those same things for people of color are left on the back burner of town business plans and meetings.
The leadership is to busy playing Milton’s favorite son or belonging to the good old boys club where your money and business interest matter more than the people you say you serve to care about the issues people of color face every moment of every day.
You do not care about our safety, concerns, vote or our voice. It has been proven in every vote you have ever cast. Your record literally speaks for itself, that we don’t matter at all in this town, that you feel bothered by our very presence in this town, that your uncomfortable facing the issues that people of color have to deal with in this town: from getting a job, coaching a sports team, to hiring teachers of color with diverse back rounds.
The leadership in Milton could at least pretend to care about the families of color here in Milton.
You all need to do much better in every aspect as this town progresses into the future.
I am not asking leadership of the town to agree with me on every detail or belief that I have but I do expect them to make the people of color feel welcome in their own town and condemn in the most absolute and in no uncertain terms that racism and bigotry will not be allowed in the town by any one on any level for any reason.
We expect you to talk just as loudly denouncing these people and actions with the same vigor you use when campaigning. We expect our leadership to have a strong backbone in the face of adversity but also in the face of truth, to have a strong united front in times of struggle and change to face the hard truths about this town and the members living in it that call Milton home, whether they be people of color or white.
If this is something you cannot do then It is truly a time for change in this community’s leadership
Can we even call Milton a community because there is no unity?
I know that not all people will agree with me, but I also know that we are tired of being afraid. We are tired of worrying about our children getting brutalized by racists in the stores or on the streets or at the park. We are tired of being pushed back into the corners of society and having our voices marginalized.
In closing, I know that we can have a civil discussion about the betterment of Milton and its citizens without resorting to a cowardly night time act that shames the town and its residents not just the person who perpetrated this heinous act of vandalism.
I have hope that people can be a better version of themselves. I believe that we are stronger together than apart. I believe we all want a better, stronger more vibrant community. But it is up to all of us to make it happen not just one or two of us.
It’s going to take all of us working together striving, pushing and yes even pulling sometimes to make Milton the best community in the state. I genuinely believe it can be done for all of our children’s sake if not than what’s the point of even trying to make a difference in the world.
The work needs to begin now. Thank you.