Co-founder Reverend Doctor Leonina Arismendi Zarkovic’s thoughts on whitewashing.
White washing is a given at this point.
The idea that there is even a Celebration of Democracy (400 years of it!) of all things here in the occupied Native Lands called Virginia is laughable.
It is peak settler colonialist to self congratulate on instilling through violence and warfare a new more CiViLiZeD way of governing People they called it… The Virginia Way.
The Virginia Way is steeped in civility and decorum, ‘bless your hearts’ and nice nasties, the Virginia way is white people’s way of throwing shade going back 400 years…This is politics in Virginia in the eyes of a first year policy consultant in the Virginia General Assembly, maybe I will feel different next year. But (at present) the Old Virginia Way is so powerful it even infiltrates spaces where people of color should feel safe and welcomed within advocacy groups and non profits working for marginalized communities’ rights, this shows itself in bias toward everyday people. It rears its ugly head in tone policing, in white gatekeepers, toxic organizations and bosses and fake faith leaders. It cost me my job, health, relationships and a lot more than I can say.
Lana and I developed Saint Solaris from an abstract dream to a reality by reminding ourselves that ‘shit stops with me/shit stops here’ we’ve experienced toxic work spaces, bad leadership praxis and disorganized, reactionary actions that affect the movement and costs the most vulnerable harm. We wanted to fight the Old Virginia Way and through having our own agency we’ve been able to do just that, and more.
I know Virginia’s Way isn’t my way, or the way of millions of other people living here. It certainly isn’t the way of the Indigenous people of this Land nor the Indigenous people of Africa whom were stolen and enslaved for generations to build up all that we see here as The Commonwealth.
The Virginia Way is the ultimate weapon of white supremacy in the state’s capitol and it is wielded by both conservatives and liberals alike, wether intentionally or unintentionally.
Because the Virginia Way also demands we ignore moral qualms presented within the General Assembly space and betray the values we hold dear while working within this space of corruption, inequality, power and white supremacy. It rears its ugly face in activists turn lobbyists that willingly compromise for a check and leave their community advocacy at the door to play in the ‘good old boys club.’ The Old Virginia Way is on full display when members of the Democratic party engage in horrendous acts of bigotry and harm and are not held accountable, not because it isn’t the wish of The People, but rather because our own representatives within the party feel some sort of way about speaking out against these things within their own party for a real fear of retaliation.
The Virginia Way in no way benefits The People represented, or impacted people working in these spaces, it continues to cater to a system created with the intent of benefitting very few individuals at the top at the expense of everyone down here.
The Virginia Way keeps a man whom wore blackface or a Klans outfit in a position of absolute power in our state, but this man (once a Republican ‘turned Democrat’) has been known to uphold racist policies, dismiss Public interests and allows Dominion well… dominion over the state. He refuses to be held accountable much less meet the demands of The People. The demands are there, no different then than they were in February (www.iceoutva.org) people want a resignation, people want tangible reparations for the 400 plus years worth of violence perpetrated by the state to Indigenous and Black people. All we’ve got instead is a photo of Ralph reading civil rights books and hipper tweets via his new ‘advisory board’ which includes none of the Civil Rights activists (self included) that brought forth the idea of a Accountability and Sensibility board to various Democratic leaders in the State. The Virginia Way is always to co-opt POC ideas for optics. This allows a disgraced leader, an outed racist to not only continue in office but to continue pushing harmful agendas.
The man who sleeps with Dominion as it continues its path of ecological destruction via environmental racism, the man whose nickname was a SLUR in college is the man whom oversaw a Celebration of the 400 years Indigenous and Black folks have suffered under colonial rule.
First of all, there’s nothing to celebrate. I can’t make this point any more clear.
And then there was the Trump invitation: Going against their own party’s advice both ‘leaders’ of Virginia saw it fit to invite a racist rapist. Birds of a feather amiright?
My disgust turn into disappointment day of, when photos of elected Democratic officials, popped in my timeline. The white feminism is palpable. Trying to channel the Squad, these Democratic women decided that instead of standing behind the Black Caucus as they called for a boycott of this shameful display of an event on sacred ground, they dressed all in white, a la suffragette, wholly ignorant (I hope) of the racist history of the suffragette movement as most feminists know of that movement through romanticized historical lens.
Wearing white to a Land that grieves violence is a slap in the face of Indigenous and Black people living in this Land. Wearing it to channel white supremacists in skirts is absolutely disheartening and ignorant at best.
Intention and impact are different.
I know some of the women on the photo personally. I’ve cried and laughed in their office and they have been so supportive last session, it really does hurt my heart that instead of walking the talk of following Black and Brown leaders as we all, together navigate these spaces of absolute denigration toward marginalized peoples they half assed a demonstration through fashion.
Non Black legislators must stop complaining so much about not being in the table with Black legislators when the minute they have the opportunity to follow their lead and show up in solidarity in this struggle they’re willing to whitewash so much.
Their presence there did not change the status quo.
They became the status quo.
I am surprised to see so many lovely and familiar faces in this mess. But it would be a disservice to my People and also to the working relationships built on mutual respect that I have for these women to not call a spade a spade.
Personally I am not all surprised at Kelly Fowler being in the group, she supported Ice notification bills and cannot be trusted to care about our People. Indigenous People, Black People, because when we are speaking of bills that attack immigrants, that is whom we are speaking about. I hope Delegate Fowler and every one that attended takes this time to think deeply on this immoral choice and do better by us next session yes but daily also.
Donald Trump doesn’t need to be ‘showed up’ that way, he simply doesn’t care, at the end of the day their silent protest and smiles frozen in time for photographs won’t change the fact that we live in a current and constant state of fascism. That colonial rule over Black and Brown bodies have always been just that, fascism.
The most powerful and effective way to show solidarity, righteousness and understanding that decolonization is needed in order to actually have Democracy in Native Lands (a concept which comes directly from Indigenous People’s praxis) is to align with Indigenous and Black folks. In this instance it would be to follow the leadership of the Black Caucus and support their event. No Democrat, Independent, Green Partier had any business sitting through that performance, unless it is to do what Ibraheem Samirah did. Nothing less:
“…nobody’s racism and bigotry should be excused for the sake of being polite,” — Delegate Ibraheem Samirah.