We began the 14th Chicken B&B to bring people together around food. To us, a table laden with food is where human connections are made and friendships kindled. Our table is all-inclusive—we welcome and embrace diversity.
Over the last month, we have been listening and paying special attention to Black, Indigenous, and people of color voices. In particular, we have been reflecting on the injustices suffered by Black Americans through systematic, societal oppression. And, we have been taking our time to craft a response and plan of action that feels both genuine and meaningful. With a limited perspective from a very privileged and very rural corner of the world, it has been difficult to determine what that action plan could look like. All we’ve known is that we could not remain silent.
Below is our overdue response to how the 14th Chicken B&B will make changes that honor and respect the dignity of Black lives and address the systemic racism BIPOC have been facing.
The murder of George Floyd & Breonna Taylor by those whose duty it is to protect and serve left us empty and at a loss for words. Their deaths add to the long list of Black lives ended at the hands of police brutality. But it is not just the police who are at fault; society at large has—for far too long—ignored systematic racism and condoned acts of physical and emotional violence. But beyond our feelings of outrage and sadness and despair—not to mention fear for the world we’re creating for the next generation—we are cognizant of the systematic oppression, marginalization, and repression of Black Americans. Too little has been done to quash White supremacy, structural inequalities, and police brutality because of someone’s skin color.
Part of my (Val) personal struggle with finding the right response to these most recent atrocities and the BLM movement is that I too am a person of color. As a mostly white-passing Latina with Native American (Andean) roots, I’ve had a role in both ignoring my skin color and ancestry, and in embracing it. I keep asking myself how I’ve embraced diversity while ignoring the color of my own skin. Growing up, we were taught to be color-blind, and now, after listening to Black voices, it feels like that was the wrong approach—ignoring diversity and turning our world a murky white. I didn’t know then that my voice is important to the BLM movement, too. In my silence—in my failure to identify with and embrace the Latina in me—I’ve been complicit in ignoring BIPOC voices. Latinos are an oppressed minority as well, but I understand that this inequity is neither justification for ignoring systemic racism against Blacks, nor does it come close to understanding how Black Americans have been treated. For me, what feels most genuine is to begin by acknowledging my own skin color and, with these new lenses, to begin truly embracing diversity, rather than “not seeing skin color.”
At the 14th Chicken B&B, we believe that Black lives matter and we stand with BIPOC against systematic racism and a culture of oppression. We long and call for systematic change that treats all people with justice, dignity, and equality. We yearn for a world where Black Americans do not live in fear, for a dawn that heralds Black freedom, and a society that recognizes and respects all skin colors.
At the 14th Chicken B&B, we have always welcomed BIPOC guests. However, we recognize that we do not live in and operate in a vacuum. Many of our guests come to our B&B to explore our mountains, sample the local cuisine, and take in the natural beauty that surrounds us. In so doing, our guests interact with our small community. It is our pledge that we will engage in making Underhill a welcoming, all-inclusive town. We will show up for protests, engage in education and outreach, and advocate for equality, dignity and justice.
Furthermore, we have recently learned about local BIPOC producers and we commit to sourcing delicious local ingredients from the BIPOC community. We commit to listening to, learning from, and supporting Vermont BIPOC voices, producers, artisans, and others. We understand that these actions are the first of many we will take and we recognize that they will evolve as our understanding of these complex issues deepens. We hope you support and welcome our advocacy and we look forward to your ideas and suggestions for making not only our B&B, but also our corner of the world a more equitable and just place.
In solidarity for dignity and justice,
Val and Todd