Richmond is in Flames
April. 1865. Richmond is burning. January. 2019. Richmond is burning.
Remember that time I wrote a whole thing about how Virginia is for lovers, not racists and bigots to fight against the candidacy of Corey Stewart? Remember that? Corey Stewart did not defeat Tim Kaine, but now it's come to light that some pretty bad dudes have taken up residency in the three most powerful political positions in the great Commonwealth of Virginia.
You see, it seems as though men who think it's okay to mock Black men and women purely based off the color of their skin have been in power ever since the City of Richmond was declared the capital of the Confederacy (and so much earlier). Virginia has only had one Black man as governor—which was still very recent by Virginia's history standards—and has never had a Black man serve as a U.S. Senator from Virginia.
Oh, were you asking about women? A woman has never served as governor, lieutenant governor, speaker of the house OR U.S. senator in Virginia. Mary Sue Terry has served as Virginia's first and only female attorney general. She ran for governor against George Allen, but you can guess how that worked out. Don't read her Wikipedia page if you don't want to get angry about her being branded as someone who was "less empathetic to family issues" because she was unmarried. Maybe it's time to fix that?
Ralph Northam, who I interviewed back in 2013 during his candidacy for lieutenant governor, was outed as using blackface in the 80s. Not 1880s, 1980s. [Update: This dude had the straight up AUDACITY to refer to the enslaved people brought to Virginia in 1619 as "indentured servants."
Justin Fairfax, who I met during his run for lieutenant governor in 2017, has now been credibly accused by two women of sexual assault and rape.
Mark Herring, who I also interviewed back in 2013 during his first run for attorney general, admitted to wearing blackface in the 1980s—likely because someone was going to dig that bit of information up.
And Tommy Norment, member of the Virginia State Senate since I was seven years old, was busted as one of the editors of the VMI yearbook which in 1968 was riddled with the most horrendous and disgusting racist images and language. I've been a Virginian all my life save for the few years I lived in North and South Carolina, and I come from a very long line of Virginians. My family fought for the Confederacy and my great-great-great grandfather was an overseer at a plantation in Southampton County. Racism is ingrained in the very history of Virginia. The first enslaved people were brought here 400 years ago this year. We continue to try to justify the racist behavior of our leaders because they have done "good things" and "that was just how it was then." Jefferson, Washington, Madison and others are absolved of their positions as slaveowners simply because they founded America.
And now, we try to justify two white men using blackface as being okay simply because it was the 1980s and people did that. I fully believe in the power of accountability. We as a human race always feel as though we hold ourselves accountable yet no one else does. That's nonsense. People never own up to their mistakes. So when Ralph Northam said he was so very sorry for being caught in blackface, we could move forward as a state. But to then turn around and say it wasn't him the next day and think it was a good idea to maybe moonwalk at a press conference?
Can we all appreciate Pam Northam in this situation? This is exhausting. I'm exhausted. 2021 seems so far away. Can we just turn Virginia off and on again and reboot the system?