Khalfani for new state director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Letters to the Editor

5/18/2019, 6 a.m.
Gov. Ralph S. Northam’s attempt to address the blackface culture that is part of America’s DNA is a start to ...

Gov. Ralph S. Northam’s attempt to address the blackface culture that is part of America’s DNA is a start to the healing that is required to regain trust and respect for the Commonwealth of Virginia as it seeks to become one in reality and not just a political slogan.

The governor and Attorney General Mark R. Herring, who both admitted to wearing blackface in the past, were acting out Scale 1 on Allport’s Scale of Prejudice and Discrimination.

Scale 1 is Antilocution, which is when a majority group freely makes jokes about a minority group in terms of negative stereotypes and negative images. The majority doesn’t look at this as harmful, even though it sets the stage for more severe outlets for prejudice, according to the scale.

The governor is creating a new position of state director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to create a bridge that will eliminate the blackface culture and truly establish diversity, equity and inclusion. But it can happen only if Gov. Northam and the Commonwealth are sincere.

That is why I recommend hiring King Salim Khalfani to fill that role. As the former executive director of the Virginia State Conference NAACP and in other roles, he has represented the community in addressing the very issues and responsibilities that the director will be charged with handling.

Mr. Khalfani would bring 30 years of experience and knowledge of collaborating with five different governors. That would be an asset as he works with agencies in adopting and amending state practices. He would ensure there is transparency and oversight during the process.

Change is needed. The Commonwealth Disparity Study showed that 98 percent of state government contracts are awarded to white-owned firms, while only 2 percent of state contracts are split among firms owned by members of five minority groups.

If the governor is sincere, he needs to hire a qualified person rather than a crony who would allow him to serve out his term without taking any action. That would be a waste and a shame.

We now must wait to see how this plays out. This is an opportunity for Gov. Northam and the Democratic Party to get off the fence and in the game with the people they claim to represent.


Henrico County