Tim Kaine: ‘The United States didn’t inherit slavery from anybody. We created it’

US Senate Hearing: COVID-19 - Safely Getting Back to Work and Back to School

Virginia politicians, y’all. Sometimes I love my state! All of our major statewide office holders are Democrats and they are all white dudes trying to out-woke each other. First it was Senator Mark Warner getting a cooking lesson from Kamala Harris on Zoom (still one of the funniest things to come out of the pandemic). Then there were all of the moves by Gov. Ralph Northam to “make up” for the fact that he did blackface in high school – he restored voting rights to a wide swath of felons in the state, he made Election Day a state holiday, he ordered a huge mail-in ballot initiative, and now this: he wants Virginia, the former home of the Confederate capital, to recognize Juneteenth as a (paid) state holiday:

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Tuesday that he will introduce legislation to make Juneteenth a paid state holiday. “It’s time we elevate this, not just a celebration by and for some Virginians, but one acknowledged and celebrated by all of us,” Northam, a Democrat, said at a news conference in Richmond. Northam said Virginia ceremonially recognizes Juneteenth Independence Day with an annual written proclamation, “but we need to do much more.” His action, Northam said, would formalize that observation, and Friday will mark a paid day off for executive branch state employees.

[From CNN]

The reason that I love this is because I am a product of Virginia schools, and we didn’t do anything for Juneteenth, and we didn’t grow up celebrating it as an actual acknowledged holiday. But it absolutely should be. Not just a state holiday, but a federal holiday. And I looove that Northam is doing this and saying this.

Meanwhile, on the same damn day, Senator Tim Kaine spoke on the Senate floor about institutionalized racism, the legacy of the Confederacy and the modern racism we see today. It was an excellent speech, honestly. The part a lot of salty Republicans are catching on can be seen at the 4-minute mark.

“The United States didn’t inherit slavery from anybody. We created it. It got created by the Virginia General Assembly and the legislatures of other states. It got created by the court systems in colonial America…” If you watch the whole speech or just that 2-minute excerpt, you get what he’s saying. He’s not saying that the American colonies were the first ever people ever to “create” slavery. He’s saying that we, as Americans, need to take ownership of our adoption and codification of a slavery system. He’s saying that “we created” the uniquely toxic American slavery system, the legacy of which can still be seen and felt today. Anyway, salty Republican bros are salty about it. They’re whining so much! They would rather whine than have a good faith discussion about slavery and racism.

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Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Getty.

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20 Responses to “Tim Kaine: ‘The United States didn’t inherit slavery from anybody. We created it’”

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  1. Becks1 says:

    I mean, when your defense against an institution like slavery is “the romans had slaves” maybe you should rethinking defending it??

    Elie Mystal on Twitter had a GREAT thread yesterday explaining why Tim Kaine wasn’t wrong and why the American “version” of slavery was really something different than what had been seen before. I cant link from my work computer but I encourage people to go find it because it was really interesting.

    • GR says:

      There’s also a good thread where director Duncan Jones (David Bowie’s son, btw), destroys similar arguments, about reparations and “historic” monuments, made by (sigh) John Cleese of all people:

      And Juneteenth should be a federal holiday.

      • pottymouth pup says:

        John Cleese lost me when he supported Brexit (and then promptly left the UK to live somewhere more hospitable)

    • Darla says:

      Yes, I read that, and it was really great. I love Elie.

    • Betsy says:

      I don’t think a lot of people understand the ways in which the American system of slavery was different from those who came before it. No other system, for one thing, sought to totally deny the humanity of the enslaved.

      • Miumiiiu says:

        Asking honestly, (not arguing)
        how about Brazil though, as they had more slaves during the same era?

  2. C-Shell says:

    I believe I’ve forgiven Ralph Northam for his black face episodes. He’s accomplished a great deal as governor, not least by keeping us locked down until VA really did flatten and bring down the COVID curve. I’m still staying home, even though there’s a tempting Juneteenth celebration in my community Friday night …. nope, I’ll pass this year and hope they make it an annual event.

    Juneteenth is both a cause for celebration and for reflection on the shame that it took three years after the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation for it to be enforced (in Texas on that date, but across the south) and only through tremendous loss of life and destruction.

  3. Joanna says:

    I wanted so badly for him and Hillary to win the election!

    • Joanna says:

      Ps I work at Regions bank and we are closing at 2 on Friday for this holiday, isn’t that great?

  4. Lightpurple says:

    Our founders made conscious decisions to maintain slavery in the new United States. It wasn’t forced upon them. It wasn’t just a holdover. At the time our Constitutional was written and ratified, several states had abolished slavery. It was discussed and debated. Compromises were made to continue with slavery. Our first president was a slave owner while our first Vice President was an abolitionist. First Lady Michelle Obama’s words of how she felt about her daughters sleeping in a White House built by slaves echo the long ago horror and anger of First Lady Abigail Adams as she watched those slaves build that house. The Constitution, in its original language, requires a Census that counts free men as one person and slaves as a fraction. Kaine is right. Our “founders,” white men all, made the conscious decision to create a nation based on slavery.

  5. Boxy Lady says:

    I grew up in VA too. I distinctly remember Martin Luther King Day as Lee Jackson King Day there. MLK had to share his holiday with Confederate generals Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Because of that, I never would have anticipated VA even trying to make Juneteenth a state holiday. Amazing!

  6. Seraphina says:

    While friends complained about not going into Phase III, I asked if if they realized the witnesses history during the press conference. And Pharrell said it best: if you love us, it will be your day too. Beautiful.
    Yes we do need to take ownership of what WAS created. Except what was done and try to move forward. Unfortunately a simple law does not change the narrow mindedness of people and their racist ideologies.
    Yesterday was history in the making. Bravo to the Governor for seizing the the opportunity and making a change.

  7. 10KTurtle says:

    I had to click on that link to see why anybody could possibly be salty about that, and subsequently uttered my first “I don’t want to live on this planet any more” of the day.

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks for testing it out, I was tempted but your comment has reminded me that I don’t need to see how awful some people are.

  8. SamC says:

    A coworker and I ran into Tim Kaine outside one of the legislative buildings in DC a couple years ago. He was so approachable, asked us why we were in DC (lobbying for the industry we worked in), was interested in our issues, took the issues summary sheet we had, and found out later he followed through and signed on to support two of the three. Even my, gulp, Trump supporting coworker left impressed with him.

    • CJ says:

      It’s a bit of a sad indicment of the state of politics that Tim Kaine actually following through and reading about issues gave me warm and fuzzies, but there we go. I actually said “oh bless him” out loud!
      Thanks for sharing @SamC – we need all the warm and fuzzies we can these days for moments of respite!

  9. Betsy says:

    I was so tickled to see that Juneteenth is going to be a Virginia holiday! I don’t live there anymore, but it was still great news.

  10. Jessica L Massie says:

    I like Tim Kaine. But I also lived for a number of years in Guinea, in West Africa. Long prior to slavery in the U.S., there was slavery that existed over here (I still live in Africa) – in fact, there were facial markings made to show who was who in what we now know as Guinea even into the last century. (And forms of slavery still exist in some countries – I’m not getting into that here.)

    So, we did indeed invent a form a slavery, and our history is tarnished by it, we built our empire on the backs of people who were not counted as human, and we have our own American “brand” of it. There is no doubt about that, and there is zero, no, absolutely none – in terms of doubt that we have not moved as far forward as many (fellow) white Americans think that we have or had.

    But I do have to point that out. Our evil is not the only evil – and we should not rest back on our laurels and say – well, other people did it! I can’t leave Rwanda now obviously, during COVID, to even visit home – but I hope things look better than they do on the news.

  11. emu says:

    I love how badass he looks with the kerchief around his neck.

  12. Alyse says:

    As a non-American, I first heard about Juneteenth watching Atlanta… and sounds like over the past few years it’s gotten a lot more widespread visibility which is cool :)

    Also, I need to watch Atlanta again…. so good!