Vermont Gov. Phil Scott Establishes Racial Equity Task Force
(STL.News) – Governor Phil Scott has signed an Executive Order to form the Racial Equity Task Force as a component of a broader state effort to promote racial, ethnic and cultural equity, including in its response to COVID-19.
“We cannot continue to treat racism and examples like the one in Minneapolis as uncomfortable and rare events, which is why we’ve been working on a Racial Equity Task Force in recent months,” said Governor Scott. “A task force is not the cure-all for what ails us. It is going to take some soul searching and real change—individually and systemically—to make a difference. The good news is, we can fix this without waiting for a vaccine or other solutions out of our control. It just takes us uniting to make this a better country for everyone because, like the coronavirus, this is literally in our hands.”
The Task Force will undertake three major projects including:
- Evaluating structures of support for racially diverse populations, including a focus on the racial disparities in health outcomes highlighted by COVID-19;
- Reviewing current state and federal law on hate speech and freedom of speech and considering changes to state law to clarify the path for prosecuting harassment, hate speech and other bias-motivated crimes; and
- Studying and presenting options to encourage Vermonters from diverse, marginalized or underrepresented racial and ethnic groups to run and serve in public office at all levels.
It will submit recommendations to the Governor on the first project by August 15 and preliminary recommendations on the second and third by December 15. The group will also provide guidance as needed by the Governor.
“This task force will contribute to advancing equity in Vermont, and yet it is only one piece of that effort,” said Executive Director of Racial Equity Xusana Davis, who will chair the task force. “The group will shine further light on existing disparities, but it is up to individuals, institutions and local and state government to make it happen. This is such important work, and it is everyone’s work.”
The Task Force will be chaired by Davis and include up to seven additional members, including representatives from the Governor’s office, law enforcement, a Vermont chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Vermont, the Vermont Human Rights Commission, and a member of the public.