Category Archives: Race and race relations

Herring Still Campaigning on Racial Justice Issues

Attorney General Mark Herring wants to be the next governor of Virginia, which means he first must win the Democratic Party nomination. Despite confessing several months ago that he once wore blackface as a college student, he has put race front and center in his bid for the state’s top office. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.

Last year Herring launched his gubernatorial bid on the proposition that a crescendo of white supremacist hate crimes warranted new hate crime legislation. The bills he favored got nowhere in the General Assembly. But he’s back, participating yesterday in a Loudoun County forum on how to counter racial inequities such as the lack of judicial diversity, offensive highway names, and how to quickly remove Confederate monuments, according to WJLA.

Are those really the top concerns of Virginia’s African-Americans? Not jobs? Not education? Not health care? I guess we’ll find out whether a white man cranking up the volume on symbolic but inflammatory racial issues is a winning political formula in today’s Democratic Party. Continue reading

SJWs Strike Again: Police Field Reports Are Biased

VCU Professor Liz Coston says black Richmonders are “overpoliced.”

Here we go again. Today readers of the Richmond Times-Dispatch are treated to a front-page, top-of-the-fold article highlighting racial disparity… not in arrests… not in convictions… not in stop-and-frisks… but in the Richmond Police Department’s use of racial identifiers in “field interview reports.”

The newspaper’s indictment:

Of the 29,997 reports Richmond police officers documented in 2017 and 2018, a disproportionate number of them described the subject of the report as a black person. In a city where black residents make up 49 percent of the population, 65 percent of the people documented were listed as black.

The RTD’s Ali Rockett quotes the Richmond Transparency and Accountability Project as describing the disparity as an “alarmingly disproportionate policing of black boys and men.” And it quotes Liz Coston, a Virginia Commonwealth University sociologist, as saying that the numbers constitute evidence of “overpolicing” of Richmond’s black community. “It’s clear that black residents in Richmond are impacted by policing to a much greater extent than white citizens are.”

Not until 31 to 33 paragraphs down does the reader encounter quotes from interim Police Chief William Smith making an obvious point: The reason a disproportionate number of field interviews are conducted with African-Americans is that a disproportionate number of violent crimes and property crimes occur in high-crime neighborhoods populated by… African-Americans. Continue reading

Northam Seeking “Diversity and Inclusion” Officer

Governor Ralph Northam is looking for a new senior-level official to promote diversity and inclusion within state government, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The new employee will report directly to the governor and his chief of staff.

Among the qualifications listed in the job description: the “understanding of systemic and institutional bias.” States the RTD:

The director will be responsible for developing a plan to promote inclusive practices and address system inequities in state government. The person who fills the post will be tasked with “promoting diversity and fostering an inclusive environment throughout state government where employees feel a sense of belonging.”

Questions: In what way is Virginia state government infected with “systemic and institutional bias”? Are we to believe that the Virginia state government apparatus, which has been run by Democrats for four of the past five gubernatorial administrations, is riddled with racism? I know the political justification for this appointment — Northam is trying to atone for his blackface scandal. But is there a factual justification — as in actual evidence of bias — for creating the office? If there is, why haven’t we seen it?

Replacing One Inequity with Another

Governor Ralph Northam vetoed a bill yesterday that would have imposed mandatory minimum sentences on repeat domestic abusers on the grounds that racial minorities would be disproportionately affected.

I nearly headlined this post, “Northam to Domestic Abuse Victims: Drop Dead.” I decided that wouldn’t be quite fair. But I wouldn’t be surprised if many people interpret his action that way.

Thanks to Northam’s veto, Virginia might be “fairer and more equitable” to perpetrators of domestic violence. But will it be “fairer and more equitable” to victims? The data is patchy, but considerable evidence suggests that African-Americans are roughly twice as likely to be victims of domestic violence as whites. One could argue that creating racial “equity” for African-American criminals creates inequity for African-American victims, primarily females. Continue reading

Mugged by Reality: Sedgwick Gardens Edition

Lawrence Hilliard moved to Sedgwick Gardens to escape the ghetto. Then the ghetto came to him. Photo credit: Washington Post

A conservative, as the saying goes, is a liberal who has been mugged by reality. Well, it appears that a large number of liberals in the affluent Cleveland Park neighborhood of Washington, D.C., have been mugged by reality. Whether they become conservatives remains to be seen.

In a social experiment that could have implications here in Virginia where the idea of mixed-income housing is all the rage, the D.C. Housing Authority increased in 2016 the maximum value of vouchers to 175% of fair market rent as set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. That meant, according to the Washington Post, that vouchers could be used for one-bedroom apartments renting at up to $2,648 per month.

At Sedgwick Gardens, a historic Art Deco apartment complex overlooking Rock Creek Park, one-bedroom apartments rented for about $2,200 per month in 2017. The apartment complex, located in D.C.’s predominantly white Cleveland Park neighborhood, is, as the WaPo puts it, “a bastion of urbane liberalism where only one in 20 voters cast a ballot for President Trump in the 2016 election.” The reaction of many Sedgwick Gardens inhabitants to the influx of tenants directly off the streets, however, was less than warm, tolerant and embracing. Continue reading

A Street Sign by Any Other Name Is Still Just a Street Sign

The Arlington County board is expected to ask the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) to rename the section of the Jefferson Davis Highway, Rt. 1, that runs through the county.

What took it so long?

I defend the preservation of Civil War statues, especially those along Richmond’s Monument Ave. The statues are magnificent works of public art that are integrated into the urban design of the community. No one erects statues of this quality any more — just compare the craftsmanship of the Lee, Jackson and Stuart effigies compared to the modest and forgettable memorials that pop up today. Remove the statues, and you create gaping holes in the streetscape. But a street name is just a street name. Continue reading

Virginia’s Decline in Crime

Source: Demographics Research Group, StatChat blog

One of the advantages of living in Virginia is that citizens are less likely than other Americans on average to become crime victims. The rate of violent crimes (seen above ) is about half the national average, according to data published today on the StatChat blog based on 2017 FBI crime data. The rate for property crimes is only three-quarters of the national average. That’s pretty impressive considering that Virginia’s demographics come pretty close to matching the national profile. The Old Dominion is doing something right.

Not that you’d know it by reading Charlottesville’s Daily Progress today. Continue reading

17th-Century Renderings of Native Virginians

Wenceslaus Hollar, a prolific maker of etchings in the 1600s, has an exhibit dedicated to his works now on display at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Born in Bohemia, he spent most of his adult life in Germany, Netherlands and England, where he cranked out a prodigious number of works, sometimes of his own contrivance, sometimes copying the paintings of others as etchings. Two renderings, I thought, were worthy of note for Bacon’s Rebellion, for they depicted the indigenous inhabitants of “Virginia” — a term used somewhat more loosely than it is today — before they were displaced by the Europeans. One etching is of the muscular gent above. And the other… Continue reading

Brace Yourself for the “Food Justice” Movement

Richmond Food Justice Corridor “planting party”

“Food justice” is a thing now.

My first instinct when I read the phrase was cynical: While some people are busy running food banks and food pantries, growing urban gardens, and setting up grocery stores in Richmond’s inner city — you know, doing things that actually feed poor people — food justice warriors are busy advocating economic and political change.

As I looked into it, I decided my gut reaction wasn’t entirely fair — partly fair, but not entirely. The Richmond Food Justice Alliance, for example, has sponsored urban-gardening events and nutritional workshops. And some of the values it promotes — inner city citizens eating better, becoming food producers as well as food consumers, in sum becoming more self-sufficient — are actually quite admirable. The movement does appear to be pushing for some positive cultural changes in the inner-city black community.

Still, steeped in the rhetoric of the Oppression Narrative, food justice warriors seem hostile to the efforts of well-intentioned outsiders. There are signs that a rift has developed between African-American community militants and white liberals in the nonprofit sector who espouse similar goals. That doesn’t help anyone. Continue reading

Follow-up: Charlottesville Race Threats a Really Bad “Joke”

A week ago I predicted that an online threat of racial violence that resulted in the shutdown of Charlottesville public schools would prove to be a hoax, possibly perpetrated by an activist trying to bring attention to racial injustice. Well, the incident did turn out to be a hoax, although I was wrong about the motive. The perpetrator, a 17-year-old white male, either (a) was making an immature “joke” (if you believe him) or (b) was seeking attention (if you believe local prosecutors). The key point is that the kid was not a white supremacist and the threat was not serious.

The “joke,” if truly meant as one, was truly unfunny. Posting anonymously online, the teenager threatened an ethnic cleansing and a school shooting, telling white students at Charlottesville High School to stay home, reports the Daily Progress. However, prosecutors said there was no evidence the teenager intended to carry out the threat. Police found no weapons at his house and found no evidence that he associated with white supremacist groups.

The “joke” was wildly irresponsible, all the more so when committed in a community where, a year and a half after a violent white supremacist rally, racial tensions remain frayed. The kid should be chastised and receive an appropriate punishment, and then everyone should chill out. Minorities are not under threat. White supremacists are not running amok in Charlottesville. Continue reading

Hit-and-Run Journalism and the Oppression Narrative

Interim Portsmouth Police Chief Angela Greene.

Two days ago, I took the Washington Post and New York Times to task for uncritically publicizing the allegations of recently resigned Portsmouth Police Chief Tonya Chapman that the police department was riddled with racism. Both newspapers rushed to publication without any dissenting view or even a note of caution.

Portsmouth City Council has appointed an interim replacement, Assistant Chief Angela Greene. In her first public statements yesterday, Greene, who like Chapman is a female African-American, said she did not see a problem with racism in the department. Said she, according to WTKR TV:

I can’t tell you what [Chapman] felt, what she might have gone through. My experience here in almost three years, I do not see that. I do not see that as a perception. I do not see that as a problem here.

Continue reading

Bacon Bits: Economic Research Edition

I periodically check the research papers coming out of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) because they often address issues of interest to Bacon’s Rebellion. The research is far more rigorous from a methodological perspective than the work product of special-interest and advocacy groups, hence more worthy of serious consideration — even when it leads to public-policy implications I don’t like! Here are some quick hits from recent studies:

“The Effects of Rent Control Expansion on Tenants, Landords, and Inequality: Evidence from San Francisco”
“We find rent control increased renters’ probabilities of staying at their addresses by nearly 20%. Landlords treated by rent control reduced rental housing supply by 15%, causing a 5.1% city-wide rent increase.”

Implications: Rent control benefits existing renters but punishes newcomers entering the rental marketplace. Can you say “increasing homelessness?” As zoning codes and other restrictive policies aggravate the supply/demand imbalance here in Virginia, will our politicians avoid the temptation to impose rent controls? Continue reading

The Media’s Oppression Narrative: Portsmouth Edition

Portsmouth City Manager L. Pettis Patton (left) and former police chief Tonya Chapman.

Thanks to the release of the Mueller report, we now know that the national media utterly disgraced itself over two years by pushing an unfounded conspiracy theory about President Trump’s collusion with Russians. Now maybe it’s time to focus on the media’s role in perpetuating the narrative of endemic racism. The latest example: coverage by the Washington Post and the New York Times over the forced resignation of Tonya Chapman, the city of Portsmouth’s black police chief.

Both newspapers gave extensive and uncritical coverage of a statement Chapman issued yesterday attributing her ouster to resistance to her attempts to overhaul a department riven by racial tension. Before arriving in Portsmouth in 2016, she said, she had “never witnessed the degree of systemic bias and acts of systemic racism, discriminatory practices and abuse of authority in all of my almost 30 year career in law enforcement and public safety.” Some officers, she said, “quite frankly did not like taking direction from an African American female.” 

I  have no idea of what the reality of the situation was in Portsmouth. Perhaps Chapman fell victim to racist white police officers who resented the leadership of a black woman. Perhaps she was railroaded by City Council. Or, conversely, perhaps she is one of those people who interpret every encounter through the prism of race and gender. Perhaps she stirred up resentment by maligning those who opposed her actions as racists and sexists. Either explanation is theoretically possible.

The issue I am raising here is not the reality of what happened, but how the Post and Times approached an issue of extraordinary delicacy and sensitivity. Continue reading

Update on Charlottesville Race Threats

Last week, I urged people not to jump to conclusions regarding the threats of racial violence that resulted in the closure of Charlottesville public schools. Many such threats turned out to be hoaxes, perpetrated by activists seeking to raise consciousness of racism and bigotry. Let the police investigation play out, I suggested.

Well, it didn’t take long to find the perpetrator, although the motive still remains a mystery to the public. Charlottesville police have arrested a 17-year-old Albemarle County male who identifies as Portuguese.  Such an identity does not fit the stereotyped profile of either a white supremacist or a progressive activist. A second teenager was arrested over an online threat that referenced Albemarle High School. Continue reading

Fear and Loathing in the People’s Republic

Charlottesville students protested gun violence in a walkout last year. Photo credit: Daily Progress

The City of Charlottesville is closing all of its public schools today after alleged threats of racial violence surfaced online. Authorities did not say what the threats were, but the Washington Post reported images circulating on social media sites referring to a post on 4chan, an anonymous online messaging board, that “included a racist meme, used slurs for blacks and Latinos, and threatened to attack students of color at Charlottesville High.”

I’ll lay five-to-one odds that the threats are a hoax. The incident has many of the earmarks of racial hoaxes described in the book, “Hate Crime Hoax,” by Wilfred Reilly, an African-American professor at Kentucky State University.

One tip-off is that hate crimes reported on college campuses are almost always hoaxes. In this case, we’re talking about a college town, not a college campus. But we’re talking about an extremely “progressive” town where racial sensitivities remain acute a year and a half after the infamous United the Right rally. The white supremacists, almost none of whom were actually from Charlottesville, have long since dispersed, but memories remain vivid, citizens cultivate their sense of victimhood — a link from the Washington Post article reads, “A year later, Charlottesville remains a wounded city” — and students are radicalized politically. Continue reading