The Chismes of Virginia Politics: Part Four

Apr 3, 2019
10:09 AM

Read Part One here, Part Two here and Part Three here.

No matter where you go in the State Capitol, you will encounter white supremacists.

A few weeks ago, the Westboro Baptist Church, in their never-ending tour to be obnoxious and get attention while doing it, decided to come to Richmond and protest our first Trans legislator Danica Roem.  Personally, I think that maybe they just found out about Danica.

For us in Virginia, she is already a household name. She is not one to hide and has been working hard all year. I had the pleasure of asking her to vote No to Pointdexter’s ICE collaboration bill to which she replied, “I just came back from that, already did!” Luckily, Danica is up for re-election and their extra spotlight helped her push a campaign that raised funds to keep her running.

No matter the timing, Westboro came through and the city turned out in response—they were kazoo’d out of the State Capitol by Richmond’s Queer and Punk/Hardcore community.

Their next stop on their tour d’hate was the VCU campus, where Citing First Amendment Rights the Westboro obtained a permit and security (including Campus police and Richmond police.)

Protected by barricades, police on horses and a little permit to harass and violence against people in the name of free speech (signed by the University itself!) they sure did exercised their right to have a child holding a sign with homophobic slurs on a school day all the while holding another sign, badly written.

The students of the university were not given such protections. Instead, their campus became a circus of media, shouting matches and beautiful cries of resistance and unity. In case any student felt “triggered” by having a HATE GROUP in their campus the University provided some extra safe room accommodations and free food for Queer students.

All in all, the Westboro Baptist Church stood ground in Richmond for a whole 15 minutes, making their protest more of a photo-op that was drowned out by the people here.

Being the capital of the State of Virginia and DC’s backyard makes RVA fertile ground for people to come through with their own agendas and ideas of what Virginia should be like and toss ’em out like seeds. People from all over the state and indeed the nation stop by to speak, rally or party here. This city wouldn’t seem like it invites vile views from out-of-town folks like the Westboro Baptists coming only to hurl slurs, display bad signs and leave after a few pictures.

Reality is that this city is home to vile view machines like the United Daughters of the Confederacy, whose job is merely to maintain a white-washed, romanticized version of Southern history in order to pose slavery and white supremacy as benevolent and Christian-like.

Granted, the Richmond is guilty of gentrification, of sweeping police murderers under the rug, of taking moneys from where it comes from at the expense of the people and a million other vile deeds done in public as well as in private.

But Richmond got grit though. Resistance will ring through the streets when necessary.

Whether a bunch of white boy losers waving Confederate flags need confronting or direct action is required to tell our governor it is time to quit, Richmonders are there for the thick of it.

I am proud to call this home and work with my community the way I do, knowing the people here are so resilient, so powerful and strong that they inspire me to continue holding it down here, to learn more, teach more, say less and give way for my people to come into these places of power—these places that feel unwelcoming, foreign to them, because power itself feels foreign to us, and in the eyes of white supremacy, we aren’t welcomed to this power and occupy space.

I want to bring more of that energy, our People themselves, into these spaces.

One of my happiest moments this year was working with people all over Virginia, organizations, clergy, family, co-workers and neighbors to put together The People’s Resolution.

This, along with coming together with the people who supported me through my first Virginia General Assembly and creating, co-founding our own consulting agency. In Virginia, you do not need a Social Security number or a driver’s license to open your own LLC: becoming a contractor is as easy as setting up your LLC and establishing an EIN number for tax purposes. Establishing your own business costs up to a hundred dollars and EIN numbers are FREE.

Saint Solaris is our new project The Radical Agency. Considering an agency is only as Radical as the people in it. Check! Considering that in order to be an agency for change, we all in our personal lives and with each other, work and strive to uphold our values to the fullest and respect other’s agencies whilst encouraging growth and good praxis.

This business endeavor, in which we will provide services and expertise to inform General Assemblies to come on policy through a Womanist, Intersectional lens, as well as working closely to help elect politicians that share our values (through this election cycle) are some of the different ways that we can provide leverage and fight for equity.

Our biggest collective dream is to bring The People into the Capitol and listen to and echo their voices. While working on that, it’s been an honor to pasarles la chusma a todxs uds., and giving you a little more insight on what the hell is going on in Virginia politics?

It’s a white supremacist trash fire.


Rev. Leonina Arismendi Zarkovic (D. Div)  is a non-binary artist, writer and political analyst originally from Montevideo Uruguay now living in the DMV. Page: Twitter: @sj_senshi.