This is a difficult position for The Voice of Motown because we recently endorsed Jim Justice for Governor of the state of West Virginia in 2020. However, we not only retract our endorsement following his comments today, we are asking him to step down.
If this were first time that Jim Justice has said an incredibly insensitive thing, perhaps we would forgive him. If he made such a clueless remark when our country wasn’t going through such a difficult, unprecedented time, we might give him a pass.
But for the Governor of the state of West Virginia to say that former President Barack Obama is no longer welcome in the state at a time like what we’re going through right now, it’s beyond inexcusable, it’s unforgivable.
Today during his COVID-19 press conference, Justice said that all presidents are welcome in the state…except Barack Obama. This of course is in incredibly poor taste at any time but particularly when the country is going through difficult race relations.
Justice was asked for explanation on his comment on Channel 3 Charleston, he said the following: “Well, it’s not a joke from this standpoint. I hate to say it but the Obama/Biden Presidency and everything devastated West Virginia. And especially southern West Virginia. And then, Hillary Clinton kind of chimed in and before you know it West Virginia was brought to our knees and everything and I hate that, I hated that so badly and everything because the good people of West Virginia – we suffered beyond belief. When I walked in the door, you can say what you want but this was a bankrupt state, and everything and there was no where to turn. So I can get really excited about that. You know, I want to love everybody and everything and you know, I mean, that about loving everybody — President Obama — everybody but what happened to West Virginia will take us decades and decades to recover. And maybe never, maybe never. Ways of life are just gone, so it was really devastating. It was really hurtful.”
While there may be some truth to what he said about Obama hurting the coal industry during his time as president, a Governor of a state must be more aware than to say such a thoughtless, reckless thing at this time.
And this isn’t the first time that Justice has said something racially insensitive this year. Back in February, Justice called a girls’ basketball team a “bunch of thugs” when they left the bench to get into a fight on the court. Justice said at the time, ““I hate to say it any other way, but honest to God’s truth is the same thing happened over at Woodrow two different times out of the Woodrow players. They’re a bunch of thugs. The whole team left the bench. The coach is in a fight. They walked off the floor. They called the game.”
Justice later apologized, saying, “it’s totally absurd to infer racial intent in his choice of words and that he never dreamed the term thugs would bother anyone.”
Jim Justice is either a racist or not very smart, or both, and neither is okay. My ten year old child knows not to call people “thugs.” While he has done some good for our state during his elected term as Governor, today’s remarks during such a delicate time in the nation’s history is the final straw. He should resign immediately as the Governor of the state of West Virginia.