Statement on the Racial Incidents and Sexual Assault Allegations of the Past Week

The last week has been extremely disturbing for me and my fellow Virginians to endure. The seemingly constant revelations have shaken our Commonwealth to its core and revealed deep-seated problems that have gone unaddressed, not just in politics, not just in Virginia, but in our society as a whole. 

Governor Northam’s yearbook picture has caused a tremendous upheaval in our Commonwealth and further divided us racially and politically. Some demand his resignation, others pray for his forgiveness. I, as a white woman, will never feel the betrayal and hurt in the same fashion as my friends of color; that is my privilege. I can forgive him as a man because of the good he has otherwise done, but honestly, it is not my place; not my forgiveness to give.

However,  if I must ask myself whether or not this was an indiscretion or whether this is the fiber of a man, have I not lost my trust?  No matter one’s position on the issue, the lack of trust has shattered us. We must learn from this episode, overcome the divide it has caused and try to move forward. I stand with my brothers and sisters of color and support their position on this matter. The admission by Attorney General Herring shortly after that he’d also once worn blackface added further injury to an extremely hurtful week. I stand with the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus in their acknowledgement of the candor shown in Attorney General Herring’s statement and I also wait to see how he can repair the relationship of trust with Virginians. 

Lastly, the two accusations of sexual assault against Lieutenant Governor Fairfax are credible and shocking. It pains me to say this, but his position is now untenable and it will be best for him to deal with any forthcoming investigations as a private citizen. As an attorney who assists domestic violence shelters and provides free representation to disadvantaged women who are seeking protective orders against their abusers, these accusations hit close to home. Lt. Governor Fairfax holds an office of public trust and that trust has been broken by credible, corroborated allegations and it is time for him to resign. 

It is my hope that this tumultuous week is not a reason for us to turn away from our electoral process and the people who govern us, but for us to work harder to hold our elected officials accountable and elevate folks who will represent the diversity of our communities and push forward with our best values. 


Jessica Foster