Editor: Mark Herring has been a Loudoun County supervisor, a Virginia senator, and now as attorney general, has a good chance at the governorship in 2021. But through it all, his Virginian proclivities to stay politically safe on race and sexism are intact.
He acts from a background of access to white privilege in a state that has been blind to its own racism since the first slaves landed on Virginia shores 400 years ago.
So what if Mr. Herring has admitted to wearing blackface when he was 19? In a state numb with insensitivity to the rights and dignity of blacks, women, and those of religions other than Christianity, that is not a show of courage. It’s a preemptive defense on the climb to higher office.
Mr. Herring was educated in Loudoun public schools and Virginia colleges that have resisted urgency in facing their own raw racism to minimize and preserve Virginia’s long-standing racist traditions.
As an attorney, Mr. Herring well knows the 20th Judicial Circuit has never had a black judge. Yet during two recent opportunities to appoint one, he stayed safe politically. Only now, with his own political future threatened, is he “ready to do my part” to address racism. Better late than never, but still, conspicuously late.
Mr. Herring, you have already done your part—ignoring abuses in the judicial system in your own county rather than address its absence of nonwhite judges, and tolerating over-prosecution of black men in every Virginia county.
Sir, please find your courage. You need to speak truth even to longtime associates, colleagues from law school, and smarmy political allies who dismiss judicial incompetence and deny their own socially-ingrained racial bias.
In this election cycle, you must empower your loyal Loudoun voters to replace the tired and ineffective culture of racism and white privilege in the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and eradicate the childish political games that plague the Office of the Sheriff.
You must decry the elective pursuit and prosecution of juveniles, black men, and political enemies of those in power and by contrast, reflexive prosecutorial protection of political allies of the Commonwealth attorney. You must demand that every appointment to the 20th Circuit bench be called from highly qualified candidates of any race and both genders.
You must emulate the bravery of blacks, women, and religious minorities who know the risk of speaking truth to power, but do it anyway. Without risk, you won’t be in the race for governor, and we will elect another generic candidate to abuse the insidious power of unearned privilege, because it makes so little difference who wins a race between any two entitled white men.
Beverly Bradford, Lansdowne