Too Much Milk
The article "Milking It" [March 13] was interesting on several levels. I know what the life of a dairy farm encompasses, but I am not familiar with the volume of animals that the Vorsteveld brothers deal with daily.
The part of the article that surprised me was the statement by John Wilson, the chief fluid milk marketer for Dairy Farmers of America. He said farmers need to produce more milk because of competition from Europe and New Zealand. He must realize that there is a surplus of milk now, causing low prices to farmers. Or is his organization not doing its job of marketing? Something is wrong with this picture.
Excellent reporting in "Milking It" [March 13]. You featured a subject that I experienced once upon a time — and so many farmers are struggling to stay vital and produce a livable income today. Fifty years ago, when I was living on an old farmstead in Newark, Vt., most of my neighbors had milking cows and pastureland that required fixing broken fences and haying in the hottest part of the summer. If a Vermonter didn't own a decent herd and live off the milk check directly, then a family cow provided plenty of dairy products for a family of six. I'd see the men go into the barn at 6 a.m. to bring out a heavy pailful before leaving for a job in Lyndonville each day.
That your journalist was willing to show up in the dark of morning and try her best to work alongside the farmhands was most impressive and made for a specific story — the aching shoulder muscles, the frisky cow tail that can cause misery, the mind-numbing work day after day.
Perhaps the biggest appreciation of her story came from the immigrants who are willing to do this work under crap living conditions. It reminded me of the qualities of old Vermont people when I first arrived to settle here: integrity and kindness from a lifestyle that required showing up and working hard every day.
Verdict on Skoglund
[Re "Justice Served: Marilyn Skoglund to Retire From the Vermont Supreme Court," May 1]: Many thanks for the fine article and photos on a great jurist and a great lady.
What a shame that in a state with very little public recognition of the accomplishments of women, some people decided to go after Dorothy Canfield Fisher [Off Message: "Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award to Be Renamed," May 3]. She was an early 20th-century author and nationally known activist for a variety of causes, including reading, libraries and child welfare. Her accomplishments went beyond her literary output and deserve recognition.
Contrary to what some have asserted, Fisher was not a leader in the eugenics movement. Nancy Gallagher's comprehensive book on eugenics in Vermont has only one reference to Fisher — as a member of the Committee on the Conservation of Vermont Traditions and Ideals, a subcommittee of the Vermont Commission on Country Life. She was not a member of the eugenics subcommittee.
Fisher's role in the eugenics movement was so ambiguous that the state library board dismissed that as a reason for the book award to be renamed. Instead, they cited the fact that no one knows who Fisher is and that her initials create confusion with a certain state agency. Does anyone remember who Randolph Caldecott or John Newbery were? I doubt it, yet the awards in their names are two of the most highly respected in children's literature today.
Alas, there is nothing DCF can do to change her initials, but that seems like a weak reason to change the award's name.
The removal of Fisher's name from the book award is the result of a sad misreading of history.
Not So Super
In the cover photo illustrating the May 1 "'Super' Hero" story, superintendent Sean McMannon, a middle-aged white man, is standing tall and proud in front of the Winooski Educational Center, a district with 58 percent students of color. His image is clear and in focus. Like a white version of God, a light is beaming from his head, and the words "'Super' Hero" are in bold.
Just in front of him, barely recognizable, are blurred images of dark-skinned children running about. The way this photo is set up is a perfect example of how the white savior complex is perpetuated in the media. In case you haven't heard the term "white savior complex," it "refers to a white person who acts to help non-white people, with the help in some contexts perceived to be self-serving," according to Wikipedia. Here are some examples: white people volunteering in African countries; "saving" hijab-wearing Muslim women; watching movies with white teachers "inspiring" low-income students of color.
The white savior complex is a racist idea that reinforces the notion that white people are superior and can save "poor" people of color. How can we work to create new narratives in the media, in our schools and in our minds that don't reinforce white superiority, even when a white person is doing a good job?