By Vernon A. Williams
When I graduated Indiana University in the seventies, aspiring journalists were admonished to be fair, thorough and objective. I learned the latter is a myth. Most see through the prism of experience, personal knowledge, passion and the capacity to empathize.
That doesn’t justify bias. It simply explains facts colored by our own “truths.”
On the matter of Virginia – with the governor and third highest third-ranking state official facing allegations of dressing in highly-insensitive blackface while the Lt. Governor, in the middle, is denying sexual charges – for the moment, I opt to defer. Instead, I solicited thoughts of some of the most brilliant people anywhere and this is what they had to say:
Abdul-Hakim Shabazz Someone dressing in blackface when I had a Jheri Curl doesn’t bother me. We all do stupid stuff in our younger days. I am more concerned about what the elected official was thinking last year than in the last decade. However, it behooves people to own up to their stupidity and apologize. Had the Governor done that to start, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
Judy Chandler Farmer I think they (Democrat office-holders charged) should stay put. The Republicans never leave when they’re accused of anything. Look at the White House.
Charlene M. Crowell For any sitting governor in 2019 to refer to slavery as “indentured servitude” reveals how far this nation has NOT come in race relations. His CBS interview was an opportunity blown big time.
Reginald G. Mason The powers that be, in Virginia, made certain that, if the Governor has to step down, that the Black Vice was sure not going to take his place. And, the Atty. Gen, purposely took himself out of the mix, to make it easier for the Governor to stay in power, while he seeks redemption! Virginia’s political strategists have made their best moves. Now, it is time for the people of Virginia to speak up and take action.
Gloria Lowe-Walker The blackface issues are poor individual decisions. The sexual harassment/assault situation is NOT the same. Are we going to ask every person who is accused to give up the way they pay their mortgage, take care of their family etc. to respond to allegations? It is a slippery slope when we expect the accused to immediately quit their job or move to another neighborhood or city without an investigation. I have and will continue to support victims who find themselves in this type of situation, but I do have to look at each situation. Ignoring the accused is as bad as ignoring the victim.
Greg Weaver As for the Governor and the AG, if there have not been any racist acts since then, they should not be held accountable for something that they did in their college days. We’ve all done stupid stuff in college that we later regretted. In fact, I understand that the Governor has done a lot to help minorities. As for the Lt. Governor, IMO the only way you can force a woman to perform oral sex is if you assault her, threaten to hurt her or use a weapon. I don’t think his accuser stated either of those things occurred.
Karen Clayton We all have done stupid stuff, been immature or truly didn’t justifiably comprehend some things. I regret some of my own past actions and am very glad that to date those actions were not held against me!
Edith Glass We need more information and investigation! Strange how this is done during Black History Month on all three political figures! Nothing said or done before or during the election period. Something is very dark in Denmark. It’s very strange how these situations have been brought to our attention now. But the Republican Party is responsible.
Shirley Thomas Keep Virginia’s racism is forefront. Not saying the other issues don’t matter. No way should we let the other issues put a cloud over racism. Each politician in their decision making should keep the interest of the good of the state for ALL people first. The citizens should act accountable in keeping with civil rights, ethics and human rights. When all stand tall these things can be done. Personal gratification should step aside.
Kim Boyd To your request, I in no way rationalize any form of assault, “blackface,” etc. For all of these three men AFTER the election to have these troubling allegations coming out is truly unfortunate on a variety of levels for the people of Virginia that simply wanted when they cast their vote, fair, honest and respectful government officials. Allegations like this against any public official are due a fair and thorough investigation, by and for the taxpayers that pay their salaries. I do find it odd that in this world of “fact checking,” and investigative reporting that this was not discovered until after the election.
Armagene Ellis-Smith The perfectly timed revelations have set the stage for Republicans to take over the state of VA. Anytime the President is in favor of other people resigning their office, please automatically know that there is a hidden agenda. So, there are controversies that have merit and require further investigation, but this should occur while these individuals are still in office. With regard to the racist offenses, this is perfect timing for the Governor of that state to apologize for slavery.
Ben Clement From an ethical perspective the greater good should rule the day. That means regardless of party affiliation each elected official must weigh the good of the people of Virginia, if not the nation, in deciding whether to resign or soldier on. Of course, a purely moralistic perspective requires due diligence of the facts and due process for the accused while granting victims and offended parties every right to legal and social redress. But in this day and age, who has time for that?
Thomas S. Hampton In my humble opinion, it’s the height of hypocrisy and an attempt at masterfully trying to distract from real issues, throwing shade over the racist history of VA. It is very much in line with what the master of distraction has/is teaching them! This isn’t about Lt. Gov. Fairfax and it comes as no surprise to me that the allegations against him – true or false – come at this exact moment, two days apart as his superior (lower case intentional), Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and the current Attorney General of VA Mark Herring, are attempting to cover up their dirt.
I am grateful to all who shared intelligent conversation, I wish you could replace some of the boring “talking heads” on TV newscasts. No matter what their perspectives, everyone who responded agrees that racism is real – and it’s not going away anytime soon.