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.