Kiah Morris introduces new show, ‘Color Lines in the Green Mountains’
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Black History Month came to a close Sunday, but one former Vermont legislator is ensuring the conversation about racism in one of the country’s whitest states continues. Our Christina Guessferd spoke with Kiah Morris about her new interview-style docuseries called “Color Lines in the Green Mountains.”
Morris says she trusts this ‘Brave Little State’ to “become a template for systemic anti-racism.”
“If there’s anywhere that can do this, do it right, and really set the tone for the rest of the nation in the ways that we always do, it would be Vermont,” Morris said.
Amid intensifying social and cultural divisions across the country, she saw Vermont schools raising Black Lives Matter flags, businesses addressing bias and discrimination, the state appointing a racial equity director and hundreds occupying Burlington’s Battery Park.
“A hunger for many white individuals to say, ‘I want to learn more, and I want to do more,’” Morris said. “I really felt we needed to capture this. This is an incredible watershed moment that needs to be documented in a really meaningful and honest way.”
Despite growth, she says Vermont still struggles to gain momentum on the road to anti-racism.
“We’re making moves, but then we’re also stuck.”
The former state representative secured a seat as Vermont’s second Black female legislator in 2014. Four years later, racist threats and harassment spurred fear for her family’s safety and forced her to resign. So why step back into the spotlight?
“There’s always someone watching, and there’s always someone seeing themselves in your story,” she said. “I can use my ability to rally individuals, to ensure that their voice is heard, and so I have to honor that because those individuals themselves are placing themselves at risk. If I cannot sit with them in courage, and if I cannot sit with them in that strength, then why did I do all of this?”
Morris says this project provides a platform where Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) can share their personal stories. By amplifying suppressed voices and asking thought-provoking questions about racism in government, business, school and more, Morris says she hopes Vermonters will explore solutions.
“So much of it, I really, truly believe, is about listening. It truly is about listening, and it’s about doing active listening and to do open-heart listening,” she said. “Understand that you never learn how to ride a bike the first time, that you’re going to continue to fall, and you’re going to need to get back up and do it again, and again, until it becomes muscle memory.”
The first episode of Color Lines in the Green Mountains, featuring Tabitha Moore, is available on YouTube right now. Morris says they post a new interview every month. You can also follow the progress and donate to the project on Morris’s website.
Copyright 2021 WCAX. All rights reserved.