Letters to the Editor (2/20/19) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Seven Days needs your financial support!

Letters to the Editor (2/20/19) 

Published February 20, 2019 at 10:00 a.m.

Stop Stereotyping

[Re "UVM's Kake Walk Featured Blackface Performers for Decades," February 13]: If nothing else good comes out of the debacles in Virginia, I think the practice, history and pain of blackface has surfaced, and that will not be as easy to ignore and laugh off. In all the coverage of the Virginia governor and attorney general, however, I'm disappointed that the University of Vermont's Kake Walk tradition — thankfully long gone — has not received national coverage. No reason this state should get off free. Are there any Vermont officials, local or state, who participated? Would they own up to that?

I do wish the blackface discussion would also broaden out to point to the practice of dressing up at Halloween as an Indian with face paint, as a Chinaman with a stocking pulled over one's head, as a Mexican in a wide sombrero or whatever other ethnic-racial depictions occur at children's and adult's parties. That's to say nothing of the Washington Redskins, the North Dakota Fighting Sioux, the Florida State Seminoles and their tomahawk chop, the Cleveland Indians and Chief Wahoo, and so on.

There is pain in the genocide this country perpetuated on Native Americans. We don't admit to that, either.

Racism in this country runs deep.

Ross Connelly


Editor's note: The Washington Post did write about UVM's Kake Walk in a February 6 article headlined: "'It's a sickness': How our culture recognizes blackface is racist — but won't stop doing it." A week later, Seven Days published a story that included archival photos, including one picturing then-governor Phil Hoff.

Hoff Color

[Re "UVM's Kake Walk Featured Blackface Performers for Decades," February 13]: Imagine how amused I was to see the photo of that paragon of 1960s progressivism, governor Phil Hoff, honoring the University of Vermont's blackface Kake Walk participants, only seven years after my black roommate and I formed the Campus Interracial Club to protest segregated freshman housing at Miami University. Our cause prevailed.

John McClaughry


Blackface at Essex Junction High School

Congratulations to Seven Days on Derek Brouwer's excellent article on the University of Vermont's annual exercise in overt racism and questionable taste that ended in 1969 ["UVM's Kake Walk Featured Blackface Performers for Decades," February 13]. Not mentioned in the article is the fact that there was another educational institution in Chittenden County that also hosted a yearly celebration of "Walkin' Fo Da Kake," replete with blackface (in the '60s changed to dark green), the "Cotton Babes" music and ritual dancing: Essex Junction High School.

In 1969, I was a junior at EJHS and president of the student council. We met with UVM prof Larry McCrorey, who nobly endeavored to enlighten our tiny brains with the history of Kake Walk. Following this meeting, we voted to recommend the discontinuation of this dubious tradition.

The pushback from members of the community, some faculty and school administrators was considerable and immediate. But fortunately, there was enlightened leadership on the Essex Junction School Board, which supported us. The Kake Walk of late winter 1969 was the last at EJHS.

Tim Searles

Grand Isle

Missing Mardi Gras

[Re Live Culture: "Magic Hat Cancels Mardi Gras Parade, Relocates Festivities to Church Street," January 28]: I have attended the Mardi Gras celebration several times, even though I live almost two hours away. I applaud the later date — and would prefer an even later one, as the wind in March can be uncomfortable. However, canceling the parade is a big mistake. It was the highlight of the celebration, in my opinion. I am not at all sure that I would attend another year without it.

Ron Willoughby

North Haverhill, N.H.

Improve Economic 'Habitat'

[Re Tim Newcomb, January 30]: Gov. Phil Scott's push to incentivize workers to come to Vermont is unlikely to boost the economy and is misdirected. We can boost the local economy by enhancing and supporting that which is already present. An apt analogy is that a landowner who wants more animals and plants on the property does not simply import that wildlife — the new will not thrive. Instead, the landowner enriches the habitat for the species they want.  

To encourage Vermont's habitat for a robust economy, I urge that funds be devoted to boosting what already is here. For example:

Support education to give workers new skills, to bring students to Vermont colleges, to improve public school learning and to awaken the minds of preschoolers. These steps also provide employment for teachers and support personnel. 

Upgrade infrastructure such as roads, bridges, internet, ample clean water, wastewater treatment and shared local transit. 

Boost existing industry and commerce: Make it easier for business owners, be they farmers, loggers, industrialists, recreation and tourist hosts, entertainers, or artists. 

Tend to the elderly and those infirm of mind or body. 

Stop buying out-of-state services: Incarcerate in-state, and hire in-state consultants, engineers and advisers.

Enhancing habitat builds from the bottom up. Correspondingly, incentivize folks to come to Vermont with skills that encourage existing residents to stay and others to come. Encourage people with skills in child daycare, and those with skills to support senior citizens. 

An acorn grows slowly, but the resultant oak is sturdy. Similarly, the payback from boosting what we have may start slowly, but the benefits are sure to be widespread and enduring. 

Hugo Liepmann


Thanks From Wake Robin

We at Wake Robin really appreciate your newspaper. It is a really big publishing production!

Tony Carleton


Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

More By This Author


Showing 1-1 of 1


Comments are closed.

Since 2014, Seven Days has allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we’ve appreciated the suggestions and insights, the time has come to shut them down — at least temporarily.

While we champion free speech, facts are a matter of life and death during the coronavirus pandemic, and right now Seven Days is prioritizing the production of responsible journalism over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor. Or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

Latest in Category

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative

All content © 2022 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401

Advertising Policy  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us  |  About Us  |  Help
Website powered by Foundation