Black Republican questions racism as root of public health disparities

At 57:25 mark, Kumulia “Kase” Long answers Human Services Committee Chair Ann Pugh’s question about systemic racism in Vermont.

By Guy Page

The Vermont House Human Service Committee Wednesday heard a black Vermonter question whether racism is at the root of racial inequalities in public health. 

Kumulia “Kase” Long of Milton spoke for about a half-hour during committee testimony and discussion about JRH6, ‘a joint resolution relating to racism as a public health emergency.”

The resolution, introduced by mostly Progressives and liberal Democrats, commits the Legislature “to the sustained and deep work of eradicating systemic racism throughout the State, actively fighting racist practices, and participating in the creation of more just and equitable” and to “eliminate race-based health disparities and eradicate systemic racism.”

The resolution outlines many public health inequalities between blacks and whites:

  • Black residents comprise just over one percent of Vermont’s population, but comprise about 4.8 percent of confirmed COVID-19 cases through 12/16/2020.
  • Black Vermonters are overrepresented (6%) among Vermonters experiencing homelessness.
  • Non-White (including Black) Vermonters are: (1) statistically less likely to have a personal doctor; (2) statistically more likely to report poor mental health; (3) more than twice as likely to report rarely or never getting the necessary emotional and social support; (4) significantly more likely to have depression; (5) significantly more likely to have been worried about having enough food in the past year; and (6) significantly more likely to report no physical activity during leisure time. 

Long is a Milton resident and, as of this March, a selectboard member. Last year he ran for the Vermont state senate as a Republican. The only black person present, he questioned whether these disparities are due to race or economic factors. Saying that “I do not speak for any group, other than myself,” the former military analyst looked at the data in the resolution and asked pointed questions to the all-white committee.

For example, the resolution declares that Vermont residents experience barriers to equal enjoyments to good health based on race and ethnicity. He asked, “Is this due to racism, or can this be attributed to economic disparity and inequality?” (See on YouTube at 49:38.) 

The resolution also finds that “21 percent of Black Vermonters own their own homes, while 72 percent of White Vermonters own their own homes, and nationally, 41 percent of Black Americans own their own homes.” Long asked, “If non-white Vermonters want to buy [homes], but can’t, is that due to racism? Or is it due to economic inequality? Also, is it because they are unable or because they don’t want to?”

Noting that “median household income of Black Vermonters is $41,533 while the median household income of White Vermonters is $58,244,” Long asked, “Is the [difference in] median household pay due to racism? And if it’s not, then how is this statement relevant?” 

When he finished his testimony, Chair Ann Pugh (D-South Burlington) asked Long if he agreed there is systemic racism in Vermont. His response – in short, yes there is racism and the solution is restoring economic and educational equality – can be seen and heard at the 57:25 mark.

Racism is a problem, it exists everywhere,” Long said. “We are looking to tackle an issue that will never go away. The human race will always have something to fight over….however, If we can address economic inequality, we can help a much bigger group,” Long said. “We can help lift each other up.”

In discussion that followed, the Democrats and Progressives on the committee generally embraced the resolution as written, while Republicans raised questions similar to Long’s. At present, the resolution is still in House Human Services. 

Categories: Legislation

10 replies »

  1. Mr. Long is SPOT ON! And it merely goes to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that democrats don’t give a damn about advocating for African-Americans – all they EVER want to do is advocate for this false narrative that every personal or societal problem or issue is somehow tied to race, when it is indeed tied to ‘ol “socioeconomics,” regardless of race.

    If Vermonters INSTEAD sought to promote people of color in order to achieve “diversity” & “equality”, – virtually all democrats would have voted for Mr. Long for a seat in the Senate. Instead he had the wrong narrative and wrong party affiliation — thus his race made ZERO difference to these hypocrites.

    As I’ve noted before, there are many thousands of white residents living at or under the poverty line in Vermont and have been for forever; they fill our trailer parks. Yet, democrats turn a blind eye to THEIR plight because of THEIR race! Democrats are the racists here & their abject lack of action in electing Mr. Long and in doing nothing to improve rural poverty here proves it.

    If the VTGOP were smart – they would encourage Mr. Long and others like him to very vocally spread his knowledge, expertise, & experiences throughout VT so we could all truly learn the key to equality: treating everyone equitably as our laws demand & assisting everyone to learn how to improve their own economic circumstances. The VT House members are surely not going to spread his word.

  2. There are countless factors involved. Many White Vermonters own homes and are better off financially due to inter generational factors, their families having lived ion VT for so long. Countless factors. We need to address issues that will impact poverty overall. “Divide and conquer” has long been a strategy.

  3. Thank you Kumulia” Case “Long for your essential and composed testimony . Adding to your voice is that of Republican Senator Tim Scott full response to President Biden first prime time speech to the Congress.
    Whether at the state or the federal level, your voices will help strengthening our nation rather than dividing her.

  4. Again thank you Vermont Chronicle for publishing this story not (yet )available in the Digger or “how the media protects a chosen narrative by not publishing content that may potentially disturbs its foundation “.

    • oh, Digger reported on it, all right….and grumped that the committee wasn’t moving fast enough. It called Long a “foil” to another person testifying.

  5. Vermont Representative Case Long of Milton, and US Senator from S. Carolina

    Tim Scott have both made GREAT progress in discussion Racial opportunities

    and Equity in the United States of America.

    A real boost for ALL Americans to hear from these Very well spoken
    Black Citizens !!!

  6. Oh, the wisdom Mr. Long reveals. You’ll note that his vision QUESTIONS their fundamental presumption that the differences noted are due to race used by white society to systematically oppress black citizens. Kase is not convinced…and he speak for legions of us less assertive out here in the mountains.

  7. The best way to keep a community healthy is to get “disadvantaged” people into home ownership. Saving money for a down payment is key. When people own property they tend to update and do maintenance on their investment which creates pride in ownership. Neighbors should be more willing to help because their property value depends on their neighbors. This is a common bond and a common purpose regardless of race. Many people getting stimulus checks have used the money to fix their house that has been in disrepair for years. I find it mysteriously coincidental that housing materials have gone up 300% during this time. Unfortunately our legislature sings the praises of U.N. agenda 2030 that does just the opposite. Build as many apartments in Vermont towns as possible for rent. Expand bus route lines for renters which keeps them under travel restrictions. Its very said. Instead of helping suburbia prosper the Vermont legislature constantly imposes stricter rules and regulations that shrink home ownership. The progressive agenda including climate change initiatives exasperates the home non-ownership model. What progressive want to accomplish is making middle class home owners unable to afford their suburban houses and force them into apartments to achieve the equality of equity model of the United Nations. Progressives never expand freedoms which would allow for upward economic mobility. All races want and deserve a self directed path to prosperity. The middle class wants to become upper middle class. Upper middle class wants to become upper class. Upward mobility is the way affordable housing becomes vacant and available for the first time home owners. Things will change for the better when progressives are voted out of office. I don’t mean any disrespect. Progressives were taught equality no matter how miniscule that standard of living will be is the definition of what the constitution means by “the pursuit of happiness”. Such a limited outlook of life is not why immigrants came to America generations ago and why foreigners will do just about anything to get here.

Leave a Reply