Gov. Youngkin and reality of racism, by Susan Swecker

3/3/2022, 6 p.m.
On one of the final days of Black History Month, Gov. Glenn A. Youngkin released an interim report on critical …

On one of the final days of Black History Month, Gov. Glenn A. Youngkin released an interim report on critical race theory from the state superintendent of public instruction – an attempt to rewrite, revise and change our history. This report launches a new chapter in Gov. Youngkin’s racist agenda to whitewash Virginia’s history and attempt to cover up the existence of racism in our Commonwealth and nation.

The history of Virginia and our nation is difficult, complex and often untold. Teaching our students about equity and inclusion is foundational to our Commonwealth’s future, and we must strive to make sure every Virginia student has a complete understanding of history and how it impacts peoples’ lives today.

As difficult as our history is, we cannot shy away from it. Instead, we must learn from it. We must learn the good, the bad and the ugly, and we must remember that Black history is Virginia’s history.

Gov. Youngkin seems to think that if we don’t talk about racism or inequities, they will somehow cease to exist. The reality is we know that racism is alive and well in our nation and Commonwealth, and that the overwhelming majority of Virginians support teaching our students how inequity continues to impact American society.

The majority of Virginians also oppose a ban on critical race theory—once again demonstrating that the governor is only interested in catering to far right factions of his party. On the campaign trail, we saw Gov. Youngkin use CRT as a dog whistle to his far right base. Now that he’s in office, he’s doing the same. Governor, it’s not a dog whistle if you can hear it — and we hear it loud and clear.

With only six weeks in office, Gov. Youngkin has done nothing but sow division and pit people against each other. His first action as governor was to ban CRT in schools. And since then, he has continued to dig in and wage a war against our public schools. He spearheaded efforts to bully our public schools and teachers by creating a tip line for people to report if “divisive concepts” were being taught in school. But as Delegate Jeion Ward said on the floor of the House of Delegates during Black History Month, “there isn’t a tip line set up for Black parents to report when their children are facing discrimination and harassment.”

The governor’s actions are alarming, deeply upsetting and dangerous. He has put up a complete facade. While he’s shooting hoops on the basketball court or delivering vests to committee meetings, behind closed doors he’s only further dividing Virginians. Don’t listen to his words, follow his actions.

As Delegate Lamont Bagby, chairman of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, said last week, it was just over a month ago when Gov. Youngkin stood on the steps of our Capitol and promised to be a governor for every Virginian. He has insisted that we teach Black history and he even put out a statement praising the accomplishments and excellence of Black Virginians. But his actions speak louder and tell a very different story.

Make no mistake: Gov. Youngkin is no mild-mannered moderate. He is a far right puppet that is working around the clock to shepherd an extreme agenda.

The simple truth is that Gov. Youngkin has declared his intent to completely whitewash necessary Black history lessons from our classrooms—silencing countless voices from our already marginalized communities. Little does he know that we Virginians know better and are better. The Commonwealth has been an inclusive place where we look to connect, not to divide.

Virginians will not let Gov. Youngkin’s attempts to rewrite history be successful. We will continue to fight tooth and nail and ensure that our history will not be forgotten.

The writer is chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia.