Commentary

Flanders: Left threatened by King’s ‘Content of Their Character’ dream

Alice Flanders speaks at a Vermont Liberty gathering this winter. Page photo

At Wednesday night’s Barre Town Hall meeting on Critical Race Theory, BIPOC Vermonter Alice Flanders of Hartford was asked this thoughtful question: “Did the color of your of your skin motivate you to work harder in order to excel in everything you do?”

Alice Flanders is now retired after a distinguished academic and professional career. She has run as a Republican for the legislative seat representing Hartford, one of the most “blue” districts in Vermont. Mulling over the question, she penned the response below and emailed it to Vermont Daily this morning. Responses are welcome, either in the comments section or in an letter or op-ed. – Editor


I honestly came through my schooling in the spirit that reverberated in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King.  Dr King’s hope was that we would see a day when people would be judged by the content of their character, rather than by the color of their skin. That premise was backed by the force of law when I entered high school (in the 1960’s).

The color of my skin presented no sort of barrier. The only barriers that truly mattered to a person were those that individuals erected for themselves.  So soon after the Civil Rights Movement, I was aware that the past was replete with examples of closed doors, limiting policies, and challenging personal perspectives. My classmates learned that I could exceed expectations of even the average girl. And our Math Teams WON while I was Captain.

I guess folk pick their competitors. Skin Color? Technically Qualified? Pick as you choose.  The doors were open, according to the Constitution, the Law of The Land.  The doors were wide open.  But everyone needed to carry themselves over the finish line. I believe that the Left saw at that moment in time that MLK was a very dangerous man, as concerning his Dream. 

I was motivated to compete and to win. What makes the difference is that my Universal Field of Competition broadened. But honestly, that perspective was due more to my parents, who valued education. They made classical music and books available to me. By the time I entered high school I has read a fair bit of Shakespeare, O Henry and Anton Chekhov. My intro to World History came in at an early age. I believe we need to make similar things available to all our kids – from  Appalachia, from inner cities, from the homes of newly immigrated Americans. Every American should have an open door. I do not support rejecting a qualified person of a properly due opportunity due to the color of their skin. And no-one should consider themselves entitled to a bigger piece of the pie due to the color of their skin.

The color of the skin has not been anything of concern for me through most of my adulthood and professional life. That is, until the current time, when folk seem required to view me first as a BIPOC, and then maybe as a person with objective qualifications. I honestly have to wonder (all things being equal) if parents and grandparents would rather choose their child’s mathematics or sciences teacher on the basis of skin color, or if an ill person truly cares more for the racial background of the surgeon rather than their objective specific surgical qualifications.

Let us motivate the individual not based on the color of their skin, but on their abilities and the content of their character. After more than 50 years of Leftist politics in  Appalachia and in the inner cities, I believe people can rightly decide which way they want their children and grandchildren to travel.

Categories: Commentary

11 replies »

  1. Right. And your parents valued education and passed that value onto you. Just that alone would do so much to help the BIPOC kids failing in school. And they obviously didn’t tell you that you couldn’t possibly compete with white kids or that you needed special privileges. They(and you) obviously expected that you could, and would, excel and so you did.

  2. Wonderful presentation in Barre on the 14th. The content of your character radiated so brightly I couldn’t see anything else.

    • “Ignorance of each other is what has made unity impossible in the past. Therefore, we need enlightenment. We need more light about each other. Light creates understanding, understanding creates love, love creates patience, and patience creates unity. Once we have more knowledge (light) about each other, we will stop condemning each other and a United front will be brought about.” Malcolm X

      “The majority of white Americans consider themselves sincerely committed to justice for the Negro. They believe that American society is essentially hospitable to fair play and to steady growth toward a middle-class Utopia embodying racial harmony. But unfortunately this is a fantasy of self-deception and comfortable vanity.” MLK

  3. is one of the last acceptable stereotypes a presumed conclusion that all people identified as being “on the left” have identical and homogenous ideas concerning race relations? the author being black of course would be at of a bit of a disadvantage at being able to discern every occasion where impediments may have been placed in her path, wittingly and unwittingly because of engrained attitudes about “the colored.” If she has come this far in life and believes she has been able to overcome because of the content of her character every obstacle that may have been placed in her way because of the color of her skin – nothing makes this particular leftist happier. That’s the way it should be. May you continue to persevere.

    • Not really a pervasive stereotype that all INDIVIDUALS on the left share a common attitude about race relations (the “colorblind” vs “race-conscious” debate). However, the ideology and the current narrative of the left as a whole certainly does not have a good historical track record of promoting and perpetuating race problems in the US. The democrat party started out as a means to perpetuate slavery and morphed into promoting Jim Crow laws, using the KKK as their enforcement wing. This progressed into the “great Society” programs which robbed many children of all races, but disproportionately in black communities, the opportunity to be raised with benefit of a father. Fatherless families are perhaps the greatest single factor in perpetuating generational poverty in America. The stereotype that this phenomenon is a creature of the left IS well-established in truth.

  4. Alice, you rock! I heard your presentation in Barre and it was inspiring and uplifting! I wish more people being led to believe race matters would consider the human race matters above all. America is a country where anyone can be anything if they work hard and persevere through the obstacles because that is what life is and that is what makes any success even greater. Handouts and special treatment is not accomplishment – it’s guaranteed failure.

  5. Back in the day, many on the “Left” were sincerely motivated. I was. We didn’t want to loot businesses, let alone Black owned businesses, to “liberate” them. We were peacfully arrested and faced the ourts. I sickened and was in real danger over Civil Disobedience arrests, as I have an “invisible disability”.
    I now see how”leadership” manipulated and exploited. Rousing crowds over non-existent situations. Promising individuals redress while co-operating with the politically well placed to advance themselves as individuals. Etc. Many Republicans are no better. Corruption is corruption.

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