Dismantle racist systems and start anew
3/1/2019, 6 a.m.
The culture of white supremacy is the foundation upon which this nation was built. It has dominated every system of power in this country for the past 400 years.
This moment in Virginia’s history provides us with a glaring opportunity to confront the culture of white supremacy and begin deconstructing the flawed systems that perpetuate the lie that there is a dominant and a subordinate culture.
The RISE for Youth Coalition and our youth-led arm, Youth for RISE, are not repulsed by Gov. Ralph S. Northam or any other official who, in their past, took part in racially insensitive actions used to rehearse and reinforce white supremacist systems and structures. We are repulsed and refuse to turn the cheek to these hateful, racist and white supremacist actions and the lies they represent and perpetuate.
It is time for a reckoning in the Commonwealth of Virginia — a reckoning that demands not just acknowledgment of the vileness of these actions, but accountability and the hard work of developing a concrete plan to change the trajectory of the systems of government and power in Virginia.
Dismantling Virginia’s racist systems and structures is not synonymous with Gov. Northam stepping down. Neither would his stepping down make those most harmed “feel better” about the hurt and betrayal of trust rippling through our communities. But there are times when taking full responsibility and championing change require drastic action.
Virginia needs a champion willing to condemn white supremacist ideology to embrace and build the new Virginia legacy of equity, unity and justice for all — a champion willing to seize this opportunity to tear down the systems and structures of white supremacy and to work to build an equitable future for all in our state and our nation.
Accomplishing the monumental task of deconstructing hate and the poisoned systems of disparity and disenfranchisement hate breeds, and building a new and equitable system of unity and justice for all will take the commitment of every Virginian.
RISE for Youth is asking Gov. Northam to take the extended hand of the harmed communities of Virginia and lead the charge for overdue and much-needed change in racial, social and juvenile justice — not reaching down from an exalted position of supreme authority, but as our fellow community member, a husband, a father and a fellow Virginian, with rolled sleeves ready to do the hard work.
Gov. Northam, RISE for Youth asks you to stand shoulder to shoulder with your countrymen to dismantle the old and begin again.
VALERIE SLATER, Executive Director
RISE for Youth Coalition
RISE for Youth is a nonpartisan campaign promoting the creation of community-based alternatives to youth incarceration and works to challenge racial injustice.