Black Vermont Lawmaker Forced to Retire Owing to Ongoing Racist Harassment

Kiah Morris was just one of four African-American legislators in Vermont. Now, only three African-American legislators remain after Morris was forced to resign following months of harassment over her race. Morris had planned to serve out the end of her two-year term but decided she and her family was suffering too much. Sadly, Morris had previously announced that she was pulling out of her re-election bid for a third term. This, too, was due to harassment regarding her race.

Discussing her decision to resign, Morris cited: “The continued harassment, a legal battle to try to find justice and dealing with the investigation.”

Morris found swastikas carved and painted on trees around her home. Nazi-linked flyers also circulated around the community. At one point, her home was even invaded. It’s not hard to see why she fears for her family’s well-being.

Morris was a frequent target on social media, including Facebook and Twitter. On Twitter, a derogatory cartoon questioning her ability to represent white constituents circulated. On Facebook and other platforms, she frequently received harassing messages and was the target of racist comments.

One horrible message from a user stated, “We will continue to fight against your efforts to make our town/state look more like your ugly mongrel son.”

Morris was also accused of bringing Somali immigrants into Vermont and championing Black Lives Matter-related issues. Morris’s district, along with Vermont, is home to less than 2 percent of residents of African-American descent.

The Vermont attorney general’s office has been looking into the online harassment. However, so far little progress appears to have been made. The local police claim that Morris declined to press charges, something that she disputes.

To make matters worse, Morris’s husband is recovering from heart surgery. With her son being brought into it and the harassment continuing to escalate, Morris opted to step aside. This is, without a doubt, a loss for democracy. Morris was elected by her constituents twice.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Brian Brinker

Brian Brinker is a political consultant and has an M.A in Global Affairs from American University.

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