Once upon a time I ran a news site, now I just have opinions on the news. 

Good morning, RVA: Del. Jay Jones’s speech, equity vs. equality, and invasive species

Good morning, RVA! It's 43 °F and rainy. Expect more rain today, more rain tomorrow, and more rain on Sunday. We might could see the sun on Monday, though!

Water cooler

Today, your homework is to read this speech given at the General Assembly yesterday by Del. Jay Jones from Norfolk. Jones speaks on how multi-generational racism in Virginia has impacted his family and how he hopes we can move forward. He calls for individual forgiveness, yet says “...that the cure for the cancer of racism and discrimination is not gradualism. The need for change and justice is urgent and immediate.” It’s a really wonderful speech, and here’s a longquote to get you started: “I decided to speak on this today because of another reaction I have heard personally and seen in the media. The reaction is one of surprise that things like blackface and other expressions of racism and white supremacy still occurred in our society as late as the 1980s or even today. That surprise has been a luxury to many Virginians, most of them white. For many of us in this chamber, and millions of people across this country, the events that have gripped Virginia aren’t an aberration, an abstraction, or an anachronism. They aren’t a unit in a history textbook. To me, and many people like me, these events are a window into a struggle that defines daily life for black Americans from the day we are born until the day we die.”

Next, Michael Martz at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has the latest update on Virginia’s budget deliberations. The education portion of the dueling budget proposals is an excellent example of the difference between equity and equality—illustrated here, but about bikes, by the League of American Bicyclists. The Governor’s plan (and to a lesser extent the Senate’s) puts more money into the At-Risk Add-On which gives more funding to schools with more at-risk students. So, for example, Richmond gets more money while Chesterfield gets less. The House’s plan to shift all the funding away from the At-Risk Add-On means all schools get a little more money. The Governor’s plan is equitable, recognizing that we need to invest more in some of our school districts so that all of our kids get a high-quality education. The House’s plan is equal, ignoring that some of our school districts face huge systemic challenges. This, of course, is directly related to race: White students make up 49% of Chesterfield schools’ population, while White students are just 13% of Richmond schools. It’s also directly related to what Del. Jones says above about the need for justice being urgent and immediate. The General Assembly has an opportunity to, right now, begin leading Virginia towards a more just and racially equitable future, should they choose to take it.

Ned Oliver at the Virginia Mercury says that Virginia’s ERA resolution is officially dead (until the next General Assembly session at least). I don’t know enough—and I’m not sure anyone does—to say what would have happened if Virginia had become the 38th and final state to ratify the amendment, but it would have been an interesting, national conversation involving Virginia that we could be proud of.

Quick update from the RTD’s Patrick Wilson on the woman arrested for protesting down at the Capitol: She’s now been released on bond and the judge has apologized for their original no-bond decision.

Did you know that next week is National Invasive Species Awareness Week? I did not! On Sunday, the James River Park System kicks off a week of events to help free our local tress from the terrifying scourge of invasive plants—including English ivy, winter creeper, and privet. Also, there are goats who will, in turn, scourge the invasives (and “everything they can reach”). Check out this charming flyer for more information and pick a day next week to get involved.

This morning's longread

When Kids Realize Their Whole Life Is Already Online

I read this article and felt encouraged that tweens totally get and understand the consequences of living a life fully online. The below excerpt doesn’t really catch that vibe, but it’s just too dark not to share.

Natalie, now 13, said that in fifth grade she and her friends competed with one another over the amount of information about themselves on the internet. “We thought it was so cool that we had pics of ourselves online,” she said. “We would brag like, ‘I have this many pics of myself on the internet.’ You look yourself up, and it’s like, ‘Whoa, it’s you!’ We were all shocked when we realized we were out there. We were like, ‘Whoa, we’re real people.’” Natalie’s parents are stringent about not posting photos of her to social media, so there are only a handful of photos of her out there, but she yearns for more. “I don’t want to live in a hole and only have two pics of me online. I want to be a person who is a person. I want people to know who I am,” she said.

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Good morning, RVA: Hands-free bill, redistricting commission, and an end to this year’s General Assembly session

Good morning, RVA: Listen and learn, new RRHA CEO, and a Henrico charette