Republican and Marine veteran Winsome Sears’s becoming the first black woman elected to statewide office in Virginia has confounded and frustrated many in the media.
During a Thursday segment on MSNBC’s The ReidOut with host Joy Reid, for example, Professor Michael Eric Dyson suggested that as a Republican opposed to the teaching of Critical Race Theory in public schools, Sears — Old Dominion’s lieutenant governor-elect — is a puppet of white supremacy.
“The problem is, here, they want white supremacy by ventriloquist effect,” he explained. “There is a black mouth moving but a white idea running on the runway of the tongue of a figure who justifies and legitimates the white supremacist practices.”
Dyson, who teaches at Vanderbilt University’s College of Arts and Sciences, as well as its Divinity School, insisted that the election of a woman of color with the opinions that Sears holds is harmful to the black community.
“We know that we can internalize, in our own minds, in our own subconscious, in our own bodies, the very principles that are undoing us. So to have a black face speaking on behalf of a white supremacist legacy is nothing new,” said Dyson.
“It is to the chagrin of those of us who study race that the white folk on the other side and the right wingers on the other side doesn’t understand: this is politics 101…this is the pre-k of race. If you tell black people ‘look, there is a person of color who I am in favor of,’ and that person of color happens to undermine and undercut and subvert the very principles about which we are concerned, you do yourself not service by pointing to them as an example of your racial progressivism,” he added.
In response to the accusations that she and Republican governor-elect Glenn Youngkin’s victories on Tuesday represent a turn back to darker days in Virginia’s racial history, Sears has entreated Reid to engage her in a conversation on race.
“I wish Joy Reid would invite me on her show — let’s see if she’s woman enough to do that — I’d go in a heartbeat and we’d have a real discussion without Joy speaking about me behind my back, if you will,” Sears said during an appearance on Fox News Wednesday.
“[Reid] talks about white supremacy,” Sears added. “Does she know that I ran against a white supremacist? I mean Joy come on. Get your facts straight and then come talk to me. I’m waiting for you.”
With the polls tightening in Virginia over the last several months, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe and his team often argued that Youngkin and other Republicans were relying upon a “racist dogwhistle” to appeal to their base. Since Republicans swept the races for statewide office in Virginia on Tuesday, many in the media have run with the line despite the fact that the Republican ticket included two people of color: Sears and Attorney General-elect Jason Miyares.