One of the most frustrating aspects of being a Virginian, a conservative, and a Southerner is the persistent and mistaken notion that we are nothing more than a bunch of backwards racists who long for a return to the days of slavery and keeping minorities “in their place”. However, for a great many of us nothing could be farther from the truth. To paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I believe that a person ought to be judged by the content of his or her character, not the color of his or her skin. Therefore, regardless of whether it would benefit or hinder me, I strongly oppose using race to determine rights, employment, or political representation.
Although I would be nothing short of a boldfaced liar if I were to say that racists and racism did not exist in the South, I have found that it is no more a widespread epidemic in my adventures in the region than it is in either the Northeast or Southwest.
And yet, due in part to the chivalrous and false notion that the Civil War (or more accurately called the War Between the States) was fought entirely over slavery, some of those in the North to this day hold the erroneous viewpoint that they are more civilized and righteous than their barbarous neighbors to the South. For that reason along with the memory of “southern” Jim Crow laws (which existed decades before I was born and manifest themselves in some facet in most states in the Union), so much of the South, Virginia included, is penalized to this very day.
The Justice Department requires us to create gerrymandered districts like the 3rd congressional district of Virginia due to supposed racial prejudice.
So is Virginia a heavily segregated state? Recently, one of my friends shared a Salon article that listed the 10 most segregated urban areas in America. Guess how many were in the South. That’s right. Zero (or one, if you count the state of Missouri). Counting from ten to one we have: Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, New York, and Milwaukee. But really, what does it matter? If a government were segregating people, I would clearly object to such a practice. On the other hand, if a person of his or her own free will chooses to live in communities of primarily one race or another, should the government take an active role to correct this supposed problem? Absolutely not.
De jure segregation, like “separate but equal”, is a blight upon humanity. De facto segregation, either done consciously or unconsciously, is just people exercising their rights to live where they choose. Now to change this issue, should the city, state, or feds forcibly uproot families and individuals from Milwaukee and the surrounding counties and mix them together to create more racially diverse communities? I would dread to see a government with such a grotesque amount of power.
Of course, maybe my opinions are in the minority here. After all, according to the above map, I’m from the “racially enlightened” Shenandoah Valley. That must explain it. We all know that a majority of Virginians are just plain ignorant and hostile when it comes to race. But thanks to the Voting Rights Act, these huge pockets of racists are not only separated from the rest of the nation, but also treated unequally under the law. But it’s OK because we just can’t trust the rest of the Virginians outside the specially designated zones!
Although I firmly believe skin color should not be a defining characteristic, for those who consider Southerners horrible racists, need I remind you that Virginia was the first state to elect a black Governor? Just for fun let’s compare Virginia to our neighboring state to the west that until his recent death kept electing a Senator who was once a member of the KKK. As West Virginia isn’t under the same burden as our Commonwealth, that must mean that by comparison Byrd was never a racist nor were any of the people who put him in office!
Anyway, with the 150th anniversary of the war fast approaching, I wanted to share with you a recent video from Jack Hunter addressing this issue. Enjoy!