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Our foremost wishes for 2019

1/4/2019, 6 a.m.
With the start of 2019, the Richmond Free Press invited select state and city officials and leaders to share their ...
Congressman A. Donald McEachin, a Henrico Democrat, celebrates his re-election to the 4th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives at a joint victory party with Ms. Spanberger Tuesday night at a Henrico County hotel. He defeated Republican challenger Ryan A. McAdams and Libertarian candidate Peter Wells. Photo by Sandra Sellars Richmond Free Press

From mass incarceration, to the ownership of wealth, to mortality rates, profound racial divides persist in every sphere. Our nation’s current president rode racial dog whistles to the White House, appealing to white fear and racism in order to divide. I wish I could say that we had moved farther along by this point in our history. But here we are. 

Virginia needs to move beyond a whitewashed commemoration. Virginians as a whole need to acknowledge the unspeakable trauma that white racial oppression has inflicted and the myriad ways that this history lives on in our state today. 

As part of this year of “reckoning,” I wish for more white Virginians to do their “own work.”

I direct the Richmond Peace Education Center. At the peace center, we provide a variety of conflict resolution and trauma healing programs to the Richmond region. Our goal is to build a more peaceful community, free of violence.

Ultimately, however, we know that to get peace, we need justice. And we recognize that if we want to eradicate violence, we must seek to eradicate the systemic violence of racism that has built this state and which has never been adequately acknowledged or redressed. 

This is urgent work. It is necessary in order to get to the place where we are better able to stand together, across lines of race and culture and class, to form the mobilized multiracial coalitions that will be necessary to bring about real change for the next generation. It is past time.