Up & Coming Weekly

September 29, 2020

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

Issue link: http://www.epageflip.net/i/1293178

Contents of this Issue


Page 11 of 24

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM SEPTEMBER 30-OCTOBER 6, 2020 UCW 11 NEWS Contrasting views of race dominate lieutenant governor debate by JULIE HAVLAK "I don't consider myself to be a Black leader. I consider myself to be a leader in N.C. who just hap- pens to be black." at's how Republican candi- date for lieutenant governor Mark Robinson introduced himself at a debate hosted by the N.C. Institute of Political Leadership and Spec- trum News. e two candidates running to become North Carolina's first Afri- can-American lieutenant governor have dramatically different views on race, law enforcement, educa- tion, economic policy and the role of government. e election pits Rep. Yvonne Lewis Holley, D-Wake, a liberal, against conservative gun-rights activist Robinson. Both stand to make history. Both are unapologet- ic about their views. Both highlight contrasting visions of race in America and what it means to be an American. If Robinson wins in November, he will become the first Black Republican elected to any major statewide office since the 1800s. He describes himself as a successful businessman who grew up as the ninth of 10 children in a poor family. Robinson says he doesn't believe in systemic racism. For him, many problems afflicting Black communities result from lawlessness, and police are part of the solution. Defunding the police, he said, is "a ridiculous idea." "Systemic racism is not the problem," Robin- son said. "We have far too many communities that are ruled by lawlessness. We need to take a good long look at that, stop putting the police under the microscope, and start putting the criminals under the microscope." Holley disagreed. "We need to start protecting people, as opposed to policing them," Holley said. "We have other ways we can do things that are less restrictive and less bullying than going in all the time with a gun and the only resource is to ar- rest and physically restrain and harm people." But the two clashed at a more fundamental level. Holley sees a world riddled with "ram- pant" systemic racism. Robinson doesn't. He es- chews "so-called race relations." Where Holley decries differences, he promotes similarities. "Every day, someone reminds me that I'm Black," Holley said. "We've come a long way. But what is happening now is systemic racism that has kept us from economic development, kept Black and brown people from safety on the streets. We're in fear of our lives from just get- ting a traffic stop." But Robinson harks back to the idea of America as a melting pot — ditching the more modern metaphor of the American salad bowl, where distinct cultural and racial identities co-exist. When identified as a Black leader, he bristled. "e best thing we can do for racial relations in this nation is stop calling ourselves by differ- ent races," Robinson said. "We're all one race, the human race, and one nation, America. We start calling ourselves human, American, and I think we'll see a lot of those issues go away." Robinson flipped the normal dynamic of these debates. While conservatives often find themselves defending the past, Robinson stood for the future. He aggressively reframed questions into optimistic quips. Fear became courage, the minimum wage became "maximum talent" — always with a heavy em- phasis on progress. "North Carolinians aren't afraid. ey're courageous, and they're ready to move on in this state under some real progress," Robinson said. "ey're ready to get past these is- sues, ready to work through this [co- rona]virus, and ready to see violence in the street ended." Holley found herself holding up the burden of history. She was a child of the civil rights era, one of the first African-American students to desegregate Raleigh's Enloe High School. She argues that she has the experience of the past and the will to create a better future. at vision of a better future differs dramatically from Robinson's. Holley supports stricter gun-control laws, including red-flag laws tagging people thought to be possible threats, higher taxes on corporations, more taxpayer subsidies to the poor, and Med- icaid expansion. She opposes the Opportunity Scholarship Program, though she praised charter schools as an alternative for parents. And she rejects any voter ID requirements. e Holley-Robinson debate was the first of this election's IOPL Hometown Debate Series. It took place Sept. 20 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. e series continues Oct. 4 with a labor commis- sioner debate featuring Democrat Jessica Holmes and Republican state Rep. Josh Dobson. e final debate is scheduled for Oct. 11, with incumbent State Treasurer Dale Folwell, a Republican, facing his Democratic opponent Ronnie Chatterji. None will have studio audiences, because of COVID-19 restrictions. Don't be just another face in the crowd. 910.484.6200 Can help your business get noticed. Give us a call today! JULIE HAVLAK, Carolina Journal News Service. COMMENTS? editor@upandcom- ingweekly.com. 910-484-6200. Candidates for lieutenant governor — Democratic state Rep. Yvonne Lewis Holley (left) and Republican Mark Robinson (right) — debate at the Charlotte Motor Speedway as part of the N.C. Institute of Political Leadership's Hometown Debate series. At center is Spectrum News NC moderator Loretta Boniti (screen shot from Spectrum News).

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Up & Coming Weekly - September 29, 2020