There are few less admirable qualities in a person than the habit of speaking before thinking. Even when sharing something as benign as a personal opinion, it is almost always best to first pause and reflect.
Most of us have erred at least once, realizing only in hindsight that it would have been better to remain silent than to speak.
Even so, eventually there comes a point when the time for reflection is done, when we must speak or risk our silence being misconstrued as something else entirely.
Over the course of the last six months, the Goochland County Board of Supervisors has been asked repeatedly by the Goochland branch of the NAACP to issue a resolution condemning all forms of racism, discrimination and prejudice. And while the board has delivered at least one strongly-worded statement confirming its commitment to equality and rejection of racism, as of this writing, members have declined to bring forth any formal resolution confirming this position.
As one board member stated, the reason for his own reluctance to support such a resolution has to do with a desire to find actual solutions to the issues faced by residents of color, and to avoid simply signing off on a resolution that wouldn’t, on its own, solve anything.
A sincere desire to avoid rubber-stamping an issue is certainly admirable. But it cannot be denied that words do matter, written or otherwise. Residents of color matter, and it only stands to reason that a resolution by the board would go a long way toward underscoring that fact.
Goochland County leaders have been put on the spot before: Back in December of 2019, a standing-room-only crowd demanded that the board pass a resolution to demonstrate their support of Second Amendment rights. The board did so unanimously, even though the resolution they passed was, as the members themselves said, almost entirely symbolic.
In this case, county leaders are once again being asked to support and protect the rights of Goochland residents, during a time when many of those residents feel as if their rights as Americans have come under attack. And while I certainly can’t pretend to speak for those who have faced racial discrimination, prejudice and injustice in their lives, I would think that such a resolution would be every bit as important to them as the Second Amendment resolution was to those who fought for it two years ago.
In the end, approving a resolution condemning racism would cost nothing but would likely mean everything to those who have simply asked for this public declaration of the board’s commitment to equality.
Drawing a line in the sand is one thing, but, in this case, that line is only causing further division and pain.
Goochland County has served as a model to so many other localities of the truly remarkable things that can be accomplished through principled leadership and a commitment to doing things the right way.