The following tweets, by members of the Virginia House Legislative Black Caucus – Del. Cia Price, Del. Lashrecse Aird, Del. Jay Jones – are in response to a tweet yesterday by Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist Jeff Schapiro, who argued that “Black lawmakers…had safe districts in which bunches ran unopposed” and “they want to keep it that way,” which supposedly – in Schapiro’s view – is why they’re opposing the redistricting amendment on the ballot this November 3. To put it mildly, Delegates Price, Aird and Jones all disagreed – for good reason – with Schapiro’s take, and in *very* strong terms, referring to Schapiro having done “this same race-based schtick during Session”; of not “talk[ing] to Black legislators about what we want”; of “eras[ing] us from history completely, especially Black women”; of being “clearly from the era of Old Virginny”; and of “privileged, reductive, and insulting” comments. Ouch.
I’m trying to recall whether I’ve ever seen a “callout” of a Virginia political reporter like this one. Can anyone remember anything even remotely similar? I can’t. Also, I’ve just got to say, it’s *very* hard to defend Schapiro, given his relentless “bad takes”; his frequent trolling/”concern trolling” of Democrats (in Schapiro’s world, Democrats are *always* in disarray…even when they aren’t at all) and on progressives (e.g., calling Bernie Sanders a “far-left candidate” and a “freebie-peddling democratic socialist running in a state whose capitalist traditions are rooted in its founding four centuries ago” – wuuut?); his appalling false equivalence and “both sidesism” (e.g., equating the extremist, pro-gun Virginia Citizens Defense League with gun violence prevention advocates…who Schapiro weirdly and inaccurately calls the “left”); his weird and tin-eared use of language, such as referring to a “racial justice crusade” after George Floyd’s killing; and “erasing Virginia’s first Black woman Majority Leader“; among other things.
Specifically on the redistricting amendment, the fact is that Virginia editorial boards, including the RTD’s, have been dead wrong for months now, really doing a disservice to their readers and to the state. And now, Jeff Schapiro comes along to…what, “whitesplain?”…to Black legislators what they supposedly think and what their motives supposedly are? This would almost be amusing, except…no, it is not, given that racial injustice is a deadly serious issue, particularly when we have a man in the White House who refuses to condemn – and often has nice words to say about – white supremacists. So…yes, I can definitely understand the following reactions by Delegates Price, Aird and Jones; I agree with what they have to say; and I commend them for expressing these important thoughts publicly!