Name: Tyeastia Green
Current Town: Burlington
Years in VT: 1
Business name: City of Burlington
Business email & website: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tell us a bit about your background before arriving in VT and what brought you to the state.
I came to Vermont for this position, Director of Racial Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, for the City of Burlington. Before arriving in Vermont, I lived in Minneapolis, MN and worked for the City of Bloomington’s IT department. I also worked on racial equity initiatives for Bloomington including creating an antiracism curriculum for city employees.
What do you enjoy about being a professional in VT?
I cannot completely answer this question. I arrived just as the pandemic shut down began. I haven’t been able to really engage with community in the way I initially envisioned. However, I believe that I’ve been able to begin the process of shifting culture here in Burlington, and that’s what I’m enjoying the most.
What are some challenges that you’ve faced as a professional since living in VT?
Burlington isn’t an anomaly. The challenges that exist here, exist everywhere – the pushback to change. Most people don’t want to change, and it makes it difficult to explain why it’s important to not only be inclusive, but to have BIPOC community members feel like they belong here.
How have you worked to overcome the challenges?
I keep pushing forward. It’s like pushing a huge boulder up a hill. It seems impossible until you understand how strong your legs are – until you understand, that it’s okay to take breaks, to catch your breath, to reenergize. Little by little, you make progress by continuing to inch up the hill. There’s a quote that I love that says, “When you don’t believe you can make a difference, remember that one drop of rain raises the ocean”.
What opportunities do you see for your sector in the future?
Because of the racial reckoning after the murder of George Floyd, many organizations are seeking racial equity professionals to help guide them on their antiracism journey. There will continue to be plenty of opportunities for years to come. It took us 400+ years to get here, it will take quite some time to get out of it.
In what ways could your community or the state of VT support BIPOC professionals?
I believe the best way to support BIPOC professionals is to invest in them, their communities, their health and being. Investment in those communities and to those professionals will help in decreasing the gaps we see in every measurable outcome.
What advice would you have wanted to receive about being a BIPOC professional before
arriving in VT?
The advice I wish I had received before arriving in Vermont is that I would experience an intense culture shock, and finding community will be as necessary to my survival as food and water.
What do you wish others knew about living in VT that you’ve discovered?
That’s it’s not as progressive as the rest of the country believes it to be. Vermont is the second whitest state in the country. That’s not by accident.
Are there other things (events/opportunities/etc) you’d like to share with the VT BIPOC
Come out to our very first, city sponsored Juneteenth celebration. Everything, besides merchandise, will be free to the public including food. It will be a great way to engage and learn with the community and celebrate the resiliency of black people.