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Vermont is so racist that its first black female state representative resigned after two terms

September 29, 2018 at 12:00 pm | Women

Nduta Waweru

Nduta Waweru | Contributor

September 29, 2018 at 12:00 pm | Women

Kiah Morris

It had seemed like black women making historic moves to become the first governors or state representatives and congresswomen would become a norm and that the society would be more welcoming to them, giving them the support they need to do their work effectively.

Well, that is not the case.

Vermont’s only black female state representative quit her job after enduring two long years of racial harassment and online threats.

According to the Washington Post, Kiah Morris, had been a victim of racist tweets and online threats.  Then, people started posting swastikas on trees. Soon after, her home was raided.

Morris had had enough. She not only ended her re-election campaign but also made up her mind to quit on September 25, pushed by the fact that her husband needed open-heart surgery.

“When I recently announced my withdrawal from re-election, it was my intention to continue service until completion of the current term, which ends in January of 2019,” Morris said in a statement posted Tuesday night on her Facebook page.

She added:

However, this time has proven to be one of significant challenge for my family. My husband is beginning the long physical journey of recovery following extensive open-heart surgery. We face continued harassment and seek legal remedies to the harm endured.

I step away now to focus on caring for and supporting my family during this time of transition and ensure our health, safety and well-being are prioritized. I want to thank the many individuals and organizations who continue to stand in solidarity with us, speak out, organize, donate and more as we press on the journey ahead. TEAM KIAH is all of us. Thank you.

Morris, who was voted into Vermont’s house of representatives twice: in 2014 and 2016, defines herself as an advocate for racial justice and workers’ rights.

The harassment she faced started during her re-election campaign in 2016, at a time when white supremacy had risen visibly. She was also harassed on Twitter, where racist caricatures of herself were posted.

It soon seeped through to her family, affecting her seven-year-old son who had seen death threat sent to the family.

Instead of waiting for her term to be over, she made a decision to quit with immediate effect. This makes Democrat Kevin Christine the only remaining black representative in the Vermont House.

There have been mixed reactions to her resignation, with some saying that the harassment should not have happened in the first place. Others have questioned why she gave up and let her harassers win.  A GoFundMe page has been set up to support Morris in her quest for justice against her harassers and to support her family after her husband’s surgery.

But for Morris, one thing is clear: bringing down racism should not rest on a single person’s shoulders.

 


Morris’ resignation comes at a time when African-American women are running for office in different states across the U.S.

Among them is Ayanna Pressley, who defeated one of America’s long-serving Congress members and is set to become the first African-American woman in this position in the history of Massachusetts.

Ilhan Omar is set to become the first Muslim woman in Congress after defeating Rep. Keith Ellison, (D-Minn.), in Minnesota’s fifth congressional district.

Others are Jahana Hayes, who is a step closer to becoming the first African-American woman representing Connecticut in the Congress; Stacey Abrams, who is set to become the first ever black woman governor of Georgia; and Lauren Underwood, the youngest woman running for Congress.

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