By Guy Page
Tyeastia Green, Jacqueline Posley, Yasamin Gordon, Tabitha Moore, Alicia Barrow, and Kiah Morris, all black women and DEI advocates, all left Vermont jobs claiming racial discrimination.
Some left Vermont. Others stayed. Some cited threats to their family and/or personal expressions of racism against them, workplace resistance as reason(s0 for leaving, All have remained active in DEI work, with several creating their own DEI consulting firms and contracting with Vermont organizations to provide speeches and training.
Today, here’s a brief account of three of the above: where they worked, why they reportedly left, and what they’re doing now.
Kiah Morris – born in Chicago, Morris earned a B.A. in Gender Studies from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and a graduate degree from Roosevelt University, according to Wikipedia. Morris was first elected in 2014 and reelected in 2016 after running unopposed. She was the only African American woman in the state legislature.
Why she left: Morris announced in August 2018 that she would not seek reelection to a third term following harassment by self-avowed white supremacist Max Misch against her and her family.
Attorney General TJ Donovan in 2019 said there was insufficient evidence about alleged vandalism and burglary, and that communications between Misch and the family – although racist and heinous – were protected speech, especially given Morris’s status as an elected official deemed to have accessibility to the public. According to Wikipedia, she resigned the following month, citing as an additional factor the desire to focus on her husband’s recovery from open-heart surgery.
The Town of Bennington later paid a $137,000 settlement after a suit, based on a Human Rights Commission report, alleged police withheld evidence.
What she’s doing now: According to her Linked In page, Morris is performing with “Queen Kiah and the Ruminators – spoken word, vocals, improv, jazz, funk, soul, rock…excellence!” More to the point, she is a DEI consultant: “Project Management | Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Consulting | Presenter & Educator | Government Relations,” according to her LinkedIn page. Her website offers her services as “an in-demand trainer and facilitator” on ‘radical diversity, equity and inclusion” and other issues. Her company is reportedly located in Essex Junction.
As a consultant, she facilitated an October, 2021 Vermont Climate Council-sponsored discussion of minority impacts of climate change in which non-minorities were forbidden to participate, as reported by Vermont Daily Chronicle. She is also a member and former co-chair of the Vermont Commission on Women.
Two months ago she announced she was leaving her position as the Executive Director of Rights and Democracy, a left-leaning advocacy group. “My journey with RAD began in 2015, being invited into a community as a historic, elected champion and welcomed into a movement that has created history itself,” she said.
Yasamin Gordon – Winooski’s first Equity Director was hired in 2021.
Why she left: Gordon resigned in 2022, citing frustration with opposition to her ‘anti-racist’ policies. Elaine Wang, Winooski’s city manager, said Gordon, who is Black, struggled with “both structural racism and microaggressions” on the job and within city government.
“She faced certainly microaggressions from colleagues,” Wang said in Community News Service news report. City administration had “a fundamental lack of understanding of what her experience would be as a Black leader in an environment that hadn’t set expectations for inclusive behavior.” Gordon declined to offer specifics and said she still lives in Vermont.
What she’s doing now: Living in Vermont. Member, Board of Directors of the Family Place at the Janet S Munt Family Room Parent-Child Center. Director of DEI Policy & Culture, Opportunity Consulting (consulting firm based in Washington, DC): “Her passion is working to dismantle and redevelop systems in order to successfully improve lives and increase opportunities for marginalized communities.” She will speak at the Chittenden Area Transportation Management Association annual meeting October 12.
Tabitha Moore is the founder of the Rutland County NAACP.
What happened: She left the post in 2021 after saying both she and her daughter experienced criticism and racism after speaking and working publicly in support of DEI and Black Lives Matter.
What she’s doing now: operates a DEI consulting business, Intentional Evolution, in Essex Junction. Moore prefers the term JEDI (Justice, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion): “Training provides a foundational understanding of concepts, language, histories, and practices related to Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI). Training is NOT a substitute for organizational transformation, but it is a good way to gain understanding about what Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion are, how they differ, and the characteristics of workplace equity and presents strategies for undoing inequity.”
Part II, upcoming: Tyeastia Green, Jacqueline Posley, and Alicia Barrow – where they worked, what happened, and what they’re doing now.
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