Virginia Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears denounces divisive policies, takes optimistic approach to race relations

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Virginia Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears was sworn in Saturday as the first black woman—actually, as the first woman, full stop—to hold her position, just days before Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” she urged Americans to have a positive outlook on where the country is in terms of race, rather than focusing on the negative.

“I am the embodiment of what we are trying to achieve in America,” Sears stated. “We want everyone to have equal opportunity and here I sit today to say, it can happen.”

Sears, a Jamaican immigrant who came to the U.S. when she was 6 years old, hopes that children today can find inspiration from her own experiences in life.

“I think I am a visible success story that says to people, ‘You can do it. You will do it. No matter your gender, no matter your color, even no matter where you were born.’ Because here I am, this is not my country, not my culture. I came from Jamaica and here, I have made it,” Sears told Fox News, noting that she is now the number two official in what was once the capital of the Confederacy.

Unlike other politicians who emphasize problems when it comes to race in America, Sears chooses to take an optimistic approach.

“Are you going to look at the glass as half full or as half empty? Because if it’s half empty that’s a negative view of life,” Sears said. “That’s where too many of our political leaders come from and all it does is serve their, I think, nefarious agenda to divide us and to say you’re a victim, you’re always going to be a victim, and the other people are the oppressors and so you need us.”

Even her designation as the first black woman to serve as Virginia lieutenant governor seems to give Sears pause for consideration, explaining that the mention of her race ignores the larger significance of being the first woman of any race to hold the job.

“And I think that’s part of the problem. We, for lack of a better word, segregate ourselves in divisive ways,” she said. “That’s not conducive to healthy relationships.”

In the same spirit of ending divisive policies, newly inaugurated Gov. Glenn Youngkin issued an executive order on his first day in office banning the teaching of “divisive concepts” like critical race theory in public education.

That is not to say that Sears believes race should be ignored or left completely out of education.

“You have to teach about the racial issues,” Sears said, warning that not learning history dooms people to repeat its mistakes

“We need to know where we were wrong so that we can move forward and right things. The way to right things is to have that opportunity to have a good education. It is to give parents choice. We’re going to teach everything, we’re not going to sugarcoat anything, because the one thing we’ve learned from history, as someone once said, is that we don’t learn from history.”

Sears pointed to Nelson Mandela as an example of how to deal with adversity without drowning in it.

“He wasn’t looking for retribution,” she said. “He wanted to say let’s talk about what happened and let’s move on because we must. We can’t keep dividing ourselves. Those are the kinds of leaders we’re looking for.”

Melissa Fine


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