Friday Footnote: Hate and Shame!
Life can be very confusing sometimes. Just when we think that an issue has been resolved and put to rest, all of a sudden – BINGO – it somehow manages to resurrect itself and raise its ugly head again. The same is true in blogging. I guess this comes with the territory and its merely a fact of life. But this dilemma was one of the reasons that I created the “Friday Footnote” feature here on ReNude Pride – as a space where any of the updates or anecdotes to the blog can be posted.
Today’s first footnote is related to this past Monday’s post here, Love = Love. Please click the title to be directed to the posting.
At the end of January, the openly gay actor Jussie Smollett, (pictured above), was brutally attacked after leaving a Chicago, Illinois, Subway restaurant. Smollett, who plays the gay character Jamal Lyon on TV’s Empire series, had just left the eatery when he was assaulted by two men (described as white) who yelled homophobic and racist epithets (“faggot” and “nigger”) as they beat him. This attack proves that violence remains a very real possibility in the lives of both African-American and same gender loving (gay) men, even today.
That the perpetrators yelled anti-gay and racial insults while beating Smollett leaves no doubt in anyone’s mind as to what motivated the beating. The irony is the fact that it took more than one culprit to injure the victim, which is generally the case in incidents where hatred is based on nothing more than fear and ignorance. I imagine the assailants were afraid that if they approached Smollett one-on-one, they’d put themselves at risk for becoming injured. Of course, his attackers are hiding. They were wrong and they know that they’re facing a possible jail sentence for their cowardice.
Smollett was treated at a trauma unit in a local Chicago hospital and then released. He is recuperating at his home. Chicago Police Department is investigating the attack and because it is an active case, the police cannot confirm if it is being treated as a hate crime.
Jussie Smollett, in the assault, had bleach poured over him and a rope noose tied around his neck. The rope noose is considered threatening as it symbolizes lynching, punishment by hanging without benefit of a legal trial. Below are photos showing Jussie’s face after the attack (the facial insert) and surveillance footage from a CCTV that show the men the police are searching for questioning.
Appearing at his concert in Los Angeles, California, Sunday, February 3, Mr. Smollett told his audience, “I needed to be here. Otherwise, I would let my attackers win.” It’s nice to know that Mr. Smollett has more courage than his assailants.
Today’s second footnote is related to the post, February: USA Black History Month.Please click the title to link to the posting.
Under the heading, Virginia and Black History Month 2019, I wrote of Governor Ralph Northam (pictured above) and his declaration of 2019 as Virginia’s Year of Reconciliation and Civility – a noble effort towards beginning to heal the racial divide that plagues this country. The Governor’s proclamation made me proud to be a Virginian and especially proud of the fact that I voted for him in our last election. Then, the same day that I published my post (February 1), the news was announced that the very same man that I supported in the last election had a very unpleasant skeleton hanging inside his closet (a less than admirable deed in his past).
It seems that our “esteemed” governor had a photo published on his yearbook page in 1984, while he was a student at the Eastern Virginia Medical School. This photo showed two men, one dressed in “blackface” (disguised as a Black man) and the other inside the robes as a member of the KKK (a white supremacist group). A copy of the page is below:
The following day (February 2), in a press conference, the Governor acknowledged that he was one of the two men in the image. He did not respond to questions as to which costume he was wearing (the blackface or the KKK robes). Needless to say, immediately the public calls began for him to resign. The day after that, (February 3), Northam flipped his story and denied being in the photo altogether. Given the frequency of changing “truths” coming from the mouth of the current president of this country, I guess the governor received tutoring in how best to mismanage a political crisis. Distort the truth!
Throughout the weekend, there were protests and press conferences all encouraging Northam to resign. Both his fellow Democrats and his political opponents joined in stating that he has no option but to leave office. The Attorney-General for Virginia, Mark Herring, urged the Governor to resign stating that he had lost the ability to lead.
Within five days of the gubernatorial scandal, all three of the state’s top elected officials would be embroiled in controversy. The leadership abilities of all three are now under scrutiny.
Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax (L), Attorney-General Mark Herring (center) Governor Ralph Northam (R)
With Northam was involved in the “blackface/KKK” scandal, the Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax was accused of sexual impropriety in a 2004 Democratic Party conference and within twenty-four hours his accuser stepped forward and publicly reiterated her accusation. The Lieutenant Governor originally denied the accusations but since his accuser has come out publicly, he has remained silent on the issue and has been unavailable for public comment. The Attorney-General, Mark Herring, who had initially been among the first to urge the Governor to resign, admitted that he, too, had worn “black-face” while at 19 year old university undergraduate. He was aware of his past misdeed when he publicly asked Northam to resign.
I voted for all three of these men. It seems that not a single elected official of the state government has the decency and ethics that should be qualities of leadership. I am seriously disheartened and embarrassed by their past behavior and question the ability of any of the three to exercise good judgment in future decisions. As a member of the Democratic Party and one who has always voted the Democratic ticket during elections, I strongly believe that all three men should resign their offices and leave with whatever dignity and integrity they have left. They have seriously compromised the trust that the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia have in the state’s government.
Last Friday, February 8, it was revealed that the Republican majority leader in the state’s Senate, Tommy Norment, worked on his college’s yearbook in 1968 that contained at least one photograph of a Caucasian student in “blackface” and had several racial and religious slurs – derogatory descriptions of Asian-Americans and a reference to another student as the “Barracks Jew.” Norment has remarked that he wasn’t responsible for “every photo, entry or word on each page.”
As the first week of the scandal ended, it is a disgrace and a shame that Virginia’s “dirty laundry” continues to become even dirtier.
Then, the next shoe dropped. Another woman stepped forward and announced that Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax had raped her. This unbelievable news began the second week of the seemingly endless saga of Virginia’s governmental crisis and made many shake their heads in both disgust and disgrace. The House of Delegates member from my district (a fellow Democrat), announced plans to introduce legislation that could lead to the lieutenant governor’s impeachment. Rape, or attempted rape, is a felony. The impeachment legislation never got introduced but four aides to the lieutenant governor resigned. Mr. Fairfax needs to step down from his office.
Next, just when we all thought it just couldn’t get any worse, Governor Northam goes on national television and in discussing the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Africans in Virginia, he describes them coming here as “indentured servants” and not slaves. When the interviewer brought this to the governor’s attention, he casually agreed that yes, they were brought here and sold as slaves. Yes, the governor has lost not only the confidence of the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia, but his own confidence in himself as well. It is time for him to resign.
Naked hugs (as the saga continues)!