Racism And Virginia

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Yorbing Staff Thursday February 7, 2019

White supremacy is deeply embedded in Virginia’s institutions, making it difficult to stamp out. Its been known that both Democrats and Republican Whites can represent the white supremacists in political office.

White supremacists gather at the statue of General Lee, Virginia

Virginia governor, Ralph Northam is caught wearing a KKK hood while Africa Americans vote for him. Like a macabre injustice, African America voters keep their oppressors in office, perpetually. Whites always hold economic power and leave African Americans generally unable to setup entrepreneurial businesses for themselves.

FILE — Riots at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 12, 2018. Corey Stewart, the Republican nominee for Senate in Virginia, likes to engage the racial fringes of his party, creating a dilemma for mainstream GOP leaders wary of his views. (Edu Bayer/The New York Times)

NPR By Domenico Montanaro

The clock seems to be ticking for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.

The highest reaches of the Democratic Party inside and outside the state have said he should resign over a racist photo on his medical school yearbook page from 1984. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, presidential candidates and, perhaps most important, both of Virginia’s senators and its longest-serving black representative all said Northam should step aside.

Image: The Independent UK

Northam didn’t help himself Saturday with a news conference in which he compounded matters. He denied he was in the photo — after first apologizing for it Friday — and then said he had used shoe polish to darken his face to look like Michael Jackson for a dance party in the 1980s.

He had learned to moonwalk, he said. What do they say about what to do when you’re in a hole?

Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, as well as Rep. Bobby Scott, all Democrats, said in a joint statement after Northam’s Saturday news conference that “we no longer believe he can effectively serve as governor of Virginia and that he must resign.” Prior to issuing that statement, they had already called Northam to tell him that themselves.

As of Monday afternoon, Northam was still holding on, but he was a man on an island.

The entire episode shines a light not just on Northam’s troubles but also on the politics of race in the Trump era. Democrats are saying that if they hope to have the moral high ground, they have to have zero tolerance.

A higher standard

Rep. Lloyd Doggett, a Democrat from Texas, said on CNN Monday he doesn’t think the Democratic Party can stand up to the “bigotry” of President Trump with Northam still in office.

“I don’t think we can do that,” he said, “unless we hold all of our officials to a high standard.”

Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who is seriously considering a presidential bid, pulled no punches Sunday in an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press.

Trump tweeted that what Northam did was “unforgivable!” But lots of people saw irony in that. Trump, after all, from the day he launched his presidential run in 2015, said Mexico was sending rapists and drug dealers to the United States; exploited white grievance to win the presidency; and as president expounded a kind of moral equivalency between white nationalists and those protesting them after the deadly, racially tinged violence in Charlottesville, Va.

“We have a president who’s a racist,” Brown said, noting Trump’s role in the birther movement, in which he questioned former President Barack Obama’s birthplace; Trump’s family’s role in alleged housing discrimination decades ago; his response to Charlottesville; and his administration’s role in what Brown called “suppressing the vote.”

Democrats: “It’s a totally different party”; what that could mean for 2020

Democrats have a complicated history on the issue of race. Theirs is the party that nominated the first black president, but it was also once the party of “Dixiecrats,” who opposed much of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society program, including the Civil Rights Act. Johnson himself used racist language.

The late Robert Byrd of West Virginia, a former Democratic Senate leader, had once been an official in the KKK. He apologized for his past and went on to be a revered member of the Senate. But how would he be viewed through a 2019 political lens?

“We’ve come a long way from where the party was in the ’50s and ’60s,” said Doug Thornell, a Democratic strategist and former Democratic leadership aide on Capitol Hill. “Now, we’re a party of inclusion and diversity. That’s reflected in the candidates running for president, the House majority, with a historic number of women and people of color. … It’s a sea change from when we had ‘Dixiecrats.’ “

The swift reaction to Northam is evidence of that change. Northam is a reminder for many in the party of where it was, not where it’s going.

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