Flemming: Longmore’s comments on St. Albans ‘equity’ board not ‘obstructionist,’ but constructive

“The BLM flag is going to matter. The Juneteenth flag will be no issue, but the BLM flag is going to upset some folks.” – Keith Longmore, speaking at St. Albans Belonging, Equity and Inclusion committee. He was kicked off the board a few weeks later.

By David Flemming

Time and again I’ve heard government officials preach to Vermonters about the importance of prioritizing diversity and inclusion. Tragically, our liberal government officials all too often fail to live up to this vision that that they insist all Vermonters should adhere to.

A few weeks ago, the St. Albans City Council voted to remove Keith Longmore from St. Albans’ Belonging, Equity, and Inclusion (BEI) Committee. It seems the Committee did not make this decision on the basis of Longmore’s race (who is black), but because they believed Longmore’s presence was “obstructionist” and at odds with the Committee’s ability to “advance the inclusive vision that all are welcome.”

Longmore thought differently. After being informed that he had been kicked off the BEI Committee, he remarked, “This is without a doubt the most egregiously racist, age-ist thing to ever happen to me in Vermont.”

While Longmore did object to some items during the May 10 BEI meeting, it becomes abundantly clear upon watching that meeting that Longmore was offering constructive criticism, rather than obstructionist comments.

Take one moment during the meeting. St. Albans’ city government had asked the Committee to give their input about a Juneteenth banner for the city’s celebration. Longmore’s immediate reaction can only be described as a willingness to help. He begins, “I’m on the Downtown Board Committee (for the city of St. Albans)… I know that they’re absolutely on your side and want to see it happen…they’ll welcome any input or engagement.”

One of the committee members wanted to go further. Reier Erickson, BEI Vice Chair, informed the Committee, “I want to see on the Juneteenth down here. I want to see the Juneteenth flag and I want to see a sign that says Black Lives Matter (BLM). Easy enough, we’re gonna stand up for Juneteenth and I think we should celebrate the day when black lives kind of started mattering a little bit.”

Longmore: “I don’t know if I’d go that far, but…”

Erickson: “I move that as the BEI committee we propose to the city (of St. Albans) that the Juneteenth banner include the Juneteenth flag as well as Black Lives Matter…

Longmore: “The BLM flag is going to matter. The Juneteenth flag will be no issue, but the BLM flag is going to upset some folks.”

Erickson: “Then it’s going to upset them…”

Longmore: “I would think very carefully about that… all lives matter, indeed they do.”

The BEI committee then chose to pass the motion with Longmore’s vote being the only one against.

While it would be impossible to draw any meaningful conclusions in such a setting as a BEI meeting, Erickson’s clear ideology espoused throughout the BEI meeting makes him especially susceptible to unconsciously adopting the white liberal paradigm and treating Longmore unfairly.

A 2018 study Self Presentation in Interracial Settings by two Ivy League psychologists found that white liberals are more likely to “patronize minorities stereotyped as lower status and less competent,” than white conservatives. Across five studies, white liberal Americans consistently used dumbed-down language when interacting with black Americans versus white Americans, in campaign speeches and in everyday speech. White conservative Americans did not.

We should also remember that is not exceptionally unusual that a black person would object to government support of Black Lives Matter. Vermonters are 94% white, and 1.4% black. If Vermont follows national trends, we can expect 17% of black Vermonters to not support Black Lives Matter. That comes out to between one or two thousand individuals. Should voices like Keith Longmore’s be excluded simply because they are a minority of a minority?

Black Lives Matter goes far beyond merely making sure black lives start mattering. A recent statement on the BLM website reads, “We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children.”

Black children living with their mother and father can expect a similar standard of living to white children in a similar situation. The inequality only starts to become extremely abhorrent when looking at the outlook for black children living outside a stable two-parent home.

Second point. A large portion of Vermont’s population believes that racial issues are an important part of a complete American education. In a pinch, nearly all Vermonters would choose Black Lives Matter racial propaganda over white supremacist racial propaganda, whether it be promoted by our government or taught in school classrooms.

But most decent Vermont folks realize that neither option is ideal. We need a more nuanced (and truthful) understanding of American racial history. And Longmore is closer to the best option than all of those on the Committee who voted to include the BLM symbol on the Juneteenth flag.

We can honestly appraise the past and present of racism in America while not denouncing America as the worst country in the history of the world, as BLM is wont to do. Longmore’s eagerness to promote Juneteenth falls squarely within this vision. The St. Albans City Council can start this process with an apology to Longmore and by reinstating him to the Belonging, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.

David Flemming is a policy analyst for the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Categories: Commentary

6 replies »

  1. Everyone on that board and anyone prescribing to “woke” ideology needs a good dose of Dr. Thomas Sowell. While they think theyre being righteous, their ignorance bleeds through.

  2. I am proud to call Kieth Longmore my friend. He is a Man with high values and moral fiber.
    Maybe the reason the Mayor and others don’t like him and single him out as extreme or intolerant is because he is factual and truthful. Those around him who preach about tolerance, understanding and acceptance don’t have a clue.
    When you stand for something you become a Target by those who don’t want to hear anything that goes against their agenda.
    Kieth Longmore chooses to stand.

  3. I wonder if Mr Longmore has ever considered running for office??? seems to have a pretty good take on things…….

  4. Thank you, Mr. Longmore.

    A black flag featuring a clenched fist representing a mission focused around ending families, does not in any way represent the values that should be the focus of Vermont’s work to build and sustain a life of health, justice and human flourishing.

Leave a Reply