The state of Vermont’s lone black female lawmaker, Rep. Ruqaiyah “Kiah” Morris (D-Bennington), announced that she will not be running for re-election this year, in part because of the overwhelming amount of racist threats she’s received.
Morris, who won the Democratic nomination earlier this month, shared her decision to withdraw her candidacy last Friday on Facebook. If elected, it would have been her third term as a representative for the state’s House.
“The last four years of service have been incredible; an enormous honor and significant responsibility,” Morris wrote. “The last two years have been emotionally difficult for many. Political discourse, and in particular within the sphere of social media has been divisive, inflammatory and at times, even dangerous.
“It is my hope that as a state, we will continue to demand greater support and protections for one another from those forces which seek to divide and destroy our communities,” she added, along with a list of her accomplishments working within the Vermont legislature.
As NECN.com reports, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, expressed disappointment in the climate that forced Morris’ resignation.
“We should be much further ahead than we are as a nation in terms of acceptance and tolerance, whether it’s sexual orientation, or gender, or race—and we aren’t,” Scott said. “We should be better.”
Earlier this month, Vermont state NAACP Director Tabitha Pohl-Moore released a statement calling out the hateful vitriol directed at Morris.
“It may be easy to think of this as everyday political dissent until one examines the reality that not one other legislator is facing the same level of vitriol or personal attack,” the Aug. 9 press release read.
“No other Vermont state lawmaker’s family is the target of hate filled verbiage, such as ‘go back where you came from” or racist remarks referring to her child as an ‘ugly mongrel’—a well-known epithet used to disparage children of mixed race,” the press release said. “Let us not forget that more than a few non-native Vermonters serve in our legislature and vote similarly to Ms. Morris, yet none are being attacked or threatened racially, nor are they told to return to where they came from.”
In an interview with the Huffington Post, Pohl-Moore responded to Morris’ resignation:
“We are, of course, extremely disappointed that the situation escalated to this level and we continue to work with Representative Morris and authorities on accountability for the perpetrators; not just for Representative Morris and her family, but also for Vermonters of color as a whole.”