Fade to Black | Richmond Free Press


What a week.

From failing test scores to another vigil for a young black man to the resignation of another police chief.

So much bad news in just a few days leaves many of us cynical, fearful, speechless and definitely exhausted.

What you will read in this week’s Free Press is just a glimpse of the crime, violence, desperation and darkness that seems to have consumed our city in weeks. We don’t like to post anything, but sometimes we have to.

The shift from light to dark was quick and sudden, similar to what we will see on November 6th when we are forced to adjust our clocks and enter an even stronger sense of gloom.

Bring us back.

Just two weeks ago, crowds basked in sunny skies and warm weather, dancing and rocking to music from the Bayou, New York, Richmond, Calif., Nova Scotia, the Zimbabwe and other unknown regions.

We ran our hearts as Djimon Hounsou brought his 16.19 run to Richmond, bringing attention to his foundation which commemorates the accomplishments and sacrifices “our African American brothers and sisters have made for our nation and celebrates the unity in diversity through symbolic routes of 16.19 kilometers and 6.19 miles.

And we burst with pride, sprinkled with a bit of skepticism, when plans for a new Diamond District were announced in September. Do you remember?

An extra dose of back slaps and high fives were shared as the news that nearly 50 minorities will be involved in rolling and negotiating the $2.4 billion mixed-use project, which includes a new baseball stadium . The project is led by RVA Diamond Partners, 45% of whose members are black. The largest black-owned company is Loop Capital, which took a 45% stake in the development, according to the partnership

Yet, amidst all the excitement and merriment, darkness continued to swirl in parts of our city. The story of Bon Secours exposing its thirst for profit on poor patients. Uncertainty over housing for the city’s homeless population. The overwhelming failure seen in many of our schools.

The dead. There are few opportunities to honor and uplift the stalwarts of this city who have spent their lives educating and fighting for others because so many tears are shed for young people who will never know the strength to such greatness. All because they were repelled by a gun and a bullet.

This darkness can no longer be ignored or set aside in favor of fun and games.

We are in crisis and we must be held accountable. Now.

Adults need to stand up and stop the nonsense. Or in Richmond’s case, shootings, murders, ignorance, dishonesty, mistrust, finger pointing and basically shameful behavior.

Mayor Levar Stoney: Hire a police chief who won’t have to be shown the door days or months after he arrives. Conduct a thorough verification process. Allow citizens to comment and share their thoughts. Make sure all candidates go through the different neighborhoods in Richmond and talk to people. Host community forums. If it takes six months to hire the right person, fine. It will simply take six months to hire the right person.

Governor Glenn Youngkin: Stop pointing fingers and arguing about why Virginia’s test results are so abysmal. (Politifact and the Poynter Institute actually contradict some of the governor’s claims. Another editorial, another time.)

Do your homework before broadcasting what you are going to do. You’ve been in office for less than a year, barely enough time to visit and assess all 132 school districts in the state, which is badly needed for anyone serious about implementing change.

As Senator Louise Lucas says in our Free Press front page article on Governor Youngkin’s reaction to the release of the 2022 National Education Progress Assessment test results:

“At a time when we need proper leadership from the Governor, instead of taking time on the road to find solutions to learning loss issues in Virginia schools, he would instead shift the blame on previous administrations.”

Civil, social, academic and business leaders: Demand more, give more and be more present.

We know that many of you, especially secondary school teachers, work tirelessly to improve the lives of your students. You do it for minimal pay and even less appreciation.

Know that we hear you, see you and appreciate you every day.

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