Category Archives: Race and race relations

Way Overdue: Cleanse the State Code of Racist Residue

by James A. Bacon

This 1956 law, enshrined in Chapter 59 of the Acts of the General Assembly, is a dead letter, rendered irrelevant by judicial rulings, others laws, and history, but it’s still on the books:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no child shall be required to enroll in or attend any school wherein both white and colored children are enrolled.

“The Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Law,” commissioned by Governor Ralph Northam, identified this and 97 other Jim Crow-era laws still lurking in the state code. The governor has committed to repeal the racially discriminatory language. You can view the report here.

“If we are going to move forward as a Commonwealth, we must take an honest look at our past,” said Northam in a press statement. “We know that racial discrimination is rooted in many of the laws that have governed our Commonwealth—today represents an important step towards building a more equal, just, and inclusive Virginia.”

States the report: Continue reading

Bacon Bits: $$$$$ Edition

They didn’t ask this question until now? Will the wave of Amazon-inspired development in the Pentagon City area of Arlington County overwhelm the region’s transportation network? “Arlington planners, and nervous neighbors, want to know,” reports the Washington Business Journal. Some neighborhood groups are wary that the point of the planning review is to clear the way for a major up-zoning in the area. “They fear the county could determine that the neighborhood has the transportation infrastructure to handle more residents and allow for density increases — even though they believe the opposite is true.”

Meanwhile, JBG Smith Properties and other developers are pitching massive new projects around the new Amazon HQ. Not coincidentally, the WBJ reports, “JBG Smith ramped up its political giving in Virginia with control of the General Assembly on the line.” JBG Smith’s Virginia campaign contributions this electoral cycle: $34,206.

Glad to hear that “Black Enterprise” is still a thing. The Mount Olive Baptist Church in Culpeper wants to create a network of support, mentorship and information for African-American small business owners. Black business ownership is increasing, but black entrepreneurs face big challenges. The goal of the network is to help them gain knowledge about finances, start-up capital and the industrial/managerial skills it takes to grow successful enterprises, reports the Star-Exponent. As the politics of grievance and victimhood have taken hold nationally, we don’t hear much about black enterprise these days. I cannot help but note that this initiative comes from a black church, not a foundation-funded think tank staffed by white intellectuals.

Can you say “overreach”? Virginia Tech will spend $5 million to $10 million to launch a biomedical research facility in Washington, D.C. by early 2021, the university announced yesterday. On a campus of a new Children’s National Hospital campus, four or five Virginia Tech research teams will conduct research on cancers of the brain and nervous system. Virginia Tech President Timothy D. Sands said in a statement the partnership fits Tech’s ambition “to solve big problems and create new opportunities in Virginia and D.C. through education, technology and research.” Continue reading

Is Racism Systemic in Loudoun Schools?


by James A. Bacon

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has launched an investigation into Loudoun County public schools for failing to provide African American students equal access to advanced programs, reports the Washington Post. The announcement follows charges by the Loudoun NAACP that discrimination against African-Americans is “not just rampant, it’s systemic.”

It never ceases to amaze me how such politically progressive school districts can be so racist. Remember, Loudoun is the school system that introduced 5- and 6-year-olds to LGBT ideology by distributing “My Princess Boy.” And in August, Superintendent Eric Williams issued a statement condemning white supremacy and other forms of hate, emphasizing that the school system “rejects racist and other hateful behavior and language.”

From what I can gather from the WaPo article, the NAACP has two complaints. One is that African-American students are the victims of racist bullying and are subjected to a “hostile learning environment.” The other is that they are denied access to the challenging curriculum of gifted programs and AP classes. Continue reading

WaPo Newsroom as Cesspit of Racism and Sexism?

Who…. me?

by James A. Bacon

The Washington Post Guild has issued a report charging that the Post, the largest-circulation newspaper serving the Virginia market, pays women less than men, and whites more than minorities. The pattern applies not only to the business side of the newspaper but to the social-justice crusading newsroom. Indeed, the discrepancies are worse in the newsroom. Some highlights on newsroom compensation contained in the report:

  • Women as a group are paid less than men.
  • Collectively, employees of color are paid less than white men, even when controlling for age and job description. Women of color in the newsroom received $30,000 less than white men, a gap of 35%.
  • The Post tends to give merit raises based on performance-evaluation scores, but those who score the highest are overwhelmingly white.

Ironically, men and women are paid about the same in the commercial division, which, I would conjecture, is less “woke” than the highly politically attuned newsroom. The Guild did find a white/minority pay gap on the commercial side of the newspaper, but it was only 5%.

Gee, it’s almost as if liberal white males use their wokeness as a smokescreen to obscure favoritism toward others like themselves. Continue reading

You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby

Dick Hall-Sizemore

As a life-long resident of Virginia for seven decades (there, I have said it), I have seen many changes.  Occasionally, reminders of these changes are especially striking. One of those stark reminders occurred about 10 years ago. I was sitting in on a General Assembly committee meeting in which the Chief Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court gives sort of an annual report to the legislature. The Chief Justice at the time was Leroy Hassell, the first black chief justice. It suddenly hit me: Wow! The Chief Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court, an imposing black man! Virginia has really come a long way over the last 30-40 years.

I just finished a remarkable book that brought more reminders. The book is We Face the Dawn: Oliver Hill, Spotswood Robinson, and the Legal Team That Dismantled Jim Crow by Margaret Edds. The author combines the best of two worlds: thorough and detailed scholarly research and the writing of a journalist. Continue reading

Woke… But Not Woke Enough

Members of the Black Parents of Arlington tell white progressives, “Put your money where your mouth is.”

by James A. Bacon

There’s a lot of blue-on-blue happening in Virginia’s schools these days as race consciousness in the educational system reaches a fever pitch. Even well-meaning teachers and administrators desirous of promoting inclusivity and diversity are subject to criticism and/or disciplinary action. Two interesting case studies drove home that point over the weekend.

Virginia Beach. Last year a Virginia Beach teacher, Deborah Aho Smith, was fired for producing a poster for an assignment in which students wrote down negative racial and ethnic stereotypes. The moral, of course, was that such stereotypes are bad. But a photo of the poster was circulated on social media and the parent of a black student who wasn’t in the class took offense and complained. The school administration panicked, and Smith was fired.

“Man, that could have been me,” the Virginian-Pilot quotes Kelly Walker, a 28-year teaching veteran and president of the Virginia Beach Education Association, as saying. Teachers are increasingly wary about leading classes on topics such as race, discrimination and stereotypes, Walker said. Continue reading

What Does It Mean to Be “White” or “Black” These Days?

Texas Senator Ted Cruz and family. Using Census definitions, three of the four Cruz family members picture here are “people of color.”

by James A. Bacon

As President Bill Clinton famously predicted in 1998 based on Census Bureau forecasts, white Americans would lose their majority status in the United States by the 2040s. The prospect of “people of color” comprising an “emerging Democratic majority” has undergirded the Democratic Party strategy of making racial/ethnic identity politics the core of their appeal. In parallel, fear of becoming a minority has inflamed the passions of many white voters. Ironically, due to an increase in the number of Hispanics and the offspring of inter-racial marriages, the percentage of Americans identifying as white is barely declining.

It is increasingly evident that the U.S. government’s system of racial classification is archaic. Indeed, recent numbers call into question what it even means to be “white” or “black,” both of which are classifications reflecting the obsessions of a by-gone era.

“The same Census projections that predict Americans who identify as white alone will become a minority during the 2040s also predict that about 75 percent of the U.S. population is expected to mark the box next to White on their Census form, either alone or in combination with another race or ethnicity,” writes Hamilton Lombard, a University of Virginia demographer, on the StatChat blog. “The race categories we use are struggling to keep up with our changing population.” Continue reading

Richmond’s Progressive Petri Dish…. Where Black Kids Are the Science Project

by James A. Bacon

One of the more interesting questions of 2019 is whether public figures like Governor Ralph Northam and Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras are more interested in striking poses that make them look enlightened on racial issues or in actually bettering the lives of African-Americans. In many cases, I would argue, progressive social policies are all about making educated elites feel righteous, not about the people they purport to help.

The latest example is a proposal under study by Richmond schools to “spread the cream,” so to speak — to distribute the relatively small percentage of white students among a larger number of of schools. The justification for scrapping the neighborhood-based school system, according to Kamras, is that “diverse” schools improve academic performance. The plan, he has said, “will provide academic and social benefits to all children of all backgrounds.”

But will it? Remarkably enough, that proposition can be tested with data from Richmond public schools. John Butcher, of Cranky’s Blog fame, has pulled Standards of Learning pass-rate data for white-majority Mary Munford Elementary and William Fox Elementary with that for two predominantly black elementary schools, Barack Obama Elementary and John B. Cary Elementary.(Cary would be merged with Munford under one of the proposals.) Continue reading

Disregard that Law

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Well, Virginia made the national headlines again last week and over the weekend.  This time it was over the requirement that couples applying for a marriage license list their race on the application. And Attorney General Mark Herring was the hero, saying that, despite what the law said, the couples did not have to do that.  (NYT, WP, RTD, as well as all the networks).

On the face of it, the state could make a case that gathering information about the race of people getting married serves a legitimate purpose by providing data for state demographers and sociologists. But, because “race” can be a vague concept and applicants self-identify their race, any data collected has become meaningless. Apparently, each county can compile its own list of categories from which applicants choose.  According to newspaper reports, Rockbridge County had a list of  approximately 200 “races”, including American, Aryan, Hebrew, Islamic, Mestizo, Nordic, Teutonic, Moor, and White American. Continue reading

Richmond Schools: Changing Names, Acting White, and Serving Hispanics

by James A. Bacon

Look, there’s nothing wrong with re-naming public schools. I take no issue with the Richmond Public Schools changing the name of one of its predominantly black schools from J.E.B. Stuart Elementary to Barack Obama Elementary. And if Richmond school officials want to swap out the name of slave-owner George Mason for an African-American hero, that’s up to them. Personally, I feel that Mason’s positive contributions warrant recognition, but inherently local decisions should reflect community values.

“Mr. Mason obviously made many contributions to the country, but I think it is time to move beyond naming schools for individuals who were slave owners,” Superintendent Jason Kamras told the Richmond Times-DispatchThere are five city schools named for slave owners and three for Confederates. 

It’s good to know that Kamras is fearlessly tackling the big issues that afflict Richmond Public Schools, one of the worst-performing school districts in Virginia even after adjusting for the large disadvantaged student body. OK, I was being sarcastic there. But at least renaming schools does no harm, you say. That’s true. When social justice progressives are diverted by purely symbolic issues from actively undermining the educational system, one can argue that is a good thing.

Still, there are many other problems that the school board could be dealing with. We could start with issues raised in separate op-eds and news articles published today. Continue reading

Yup, Virginia Universities Discriminate Against Asians

What would Mr. Jefferson say?

by James A. Bacon

A study of five Virginia public universities shows that admission policies at all five institutions discriminate against Asian applicants after accounting for standardized test scores and high-school grade point averages. The University of Virginia and the College of William & Mary, the two most selective institutions, also discriminate against whites in favor of blacks and Hispanics.

Based on data obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, Althea Nagai, a research fellow at the Center for Equal Opportunity, a right-of-center think tank, reached the following conclusions:

“At UVA and especially at WM, blacks were given substantial admissions preference over whites … (controlling for SAT scores, GPAs, gender, residence, and legacy). To a lesser extent, Hispanics also received preference over whites at these two schools. …

White applicants (along with blacks and Hispanics) were favored over Asian Americans at all five institutions. The other universities included in the study were Virginia Tech, James Madison University, and George Mason University. Continue reading

The Unstated Assumption in Richmond’s School Rezoning Proposal

Sen. Glen Sturtevant

by James A. Bacon

Which position is more objectionable? Opposing a rezoning of Richmond schools to achieve greater racial balance on the grounds that it would eliminate neighborhood schools… or the unstated assumption that black kids need more white kids around them to perform better academically?

We can be assured that the the “neighborhood schools” argument will be tagged as retrograde. Indeed, for all practical purposes, it already has. But how about the black-kids-need-white-kids assumption? Isn’t that offensive, too?

Sen. Glen Sturtevant, R-Chesterfield, facing a tough re-election campaign, has made “Save Our Neighborhood Schools” a campaign issue. His district includes two white-majority elementary schools that would be merged with black-majority schools in a plan under consideration by the Richmond school system. Siblings would be split between schools, creating scheduling conflicts for parents, and fewer students would be able to walk and bike to school, he has argued.

Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist Michael Paul Williams has likened the neighborhood-schools rallying cry to the rhetoric of whites resisting de-segregation in the 1970s. “Save Our Neighborhood Schools was to the 1970s,” he writes today, “what Massive Resistance was to the 1950s.” Continue reading

English Learners and SOL Scores

by James A. Bacon

A couple of weeks ago I speculated on the reasons for the continued fall in Standards of Learning (SOL) English test scores, a trend that was particularly conspicuous for African-Americans and Hispanics. The prime culprit, I suggested, was the imposition of “restorative justice” disciplinary policies, designed to reduce the disparity in suspensions between black and white students, which had the effect of undermining order in in classrooms and disrupting teaching.

Now comes another explanation — at least a partial one — by way of Debbie Truong with the Washington Post, who focuses on the precipitous decline among English as a Second Language (ESL) students. It turns out that the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) changed the way it calculated pass rates for ESL learners in response to a change in federal education law. Continue reading

The New African Migration

Image source: Pew Research Center

by James A. Bacon

While the United States indulges in an orgy of introspection over the 400th anniversary of enslaved Africans arriving on the shores of Virginia, it might be worthwhile reminding ourselves that that was then, and this is now. It may have escaped the notice of the New York Times, but the country has changed.

Africans are coming voluntarily to the United States by the tens of thousands every year. And, in an irony of ironies according to a 2017 Pew Research Center report, African immigrants are most likely to live in the South — 39% reside in the former center of slavery compared to 25% in the Northeast, and much smaller percentages in the Midwest and West. Virginia, by the way is one of seven states with African-born populations of more than 100,000.

Historians estimate that 400,000 enslaved Africans came to North America during the 200-year period in which the trans-Atlantic slave trade was practiced in the English colonies and the newly independent United States. Pew estimates that 2 million Africans (the vast majority of whom are from sub-Saharan countries) have emigrated to the U.S. since 1990. Americans need to be honest about the nation’s past of slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and discrimination. But we also need to be honest about the nation that we have become. America is a land of opportunity for all people of all races and ethnicities.

Do “White People” Suppress Black History?

Christy Coleman

by James A. Bacon

Christy Coleman, CEO of the American Civil War Museum in Richmond and an African-American, professes to know how white people think. Here’s what she said yesterday at a Richmond forum that, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, was organized “to dispel racism against African Americans.”

White people want to feel good about their history, and that means everyone else has to forget about theirs. Well, I’m not in that business.

Wow.

First point: I’m such a dinosaur I can remember what it was like growing up in the 1960s when I was taught that it was wrong to make sweeping generalities about the people of other races and cultures. That was called “stereotyping.” When applied to blacks and minorities, stereotyping was considered a form of racism. Now, apparently, it is deemed acceptable to make sweeping derogatory generalities about “white people.” Continue reading