Outside the Novahood

Editors’ Note: Our feature ‘Briefly Noted’ is now renamed Outside the Novahood to reflect more geographically its content: items that arise or occur beyond Northern Virginia and, sometimes, elsewhere.


Bluefield College, a school that competes athletically in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, forfeited its game scheduled to take place Feb. 11 after players were suspended for kneeling during the national anthem at recent games. The college president said that after players knelt during multiple games in January and February, even after he’d told them to stop, he decided to suspend all athletes involved.

Waxing rationally, the college leader proclaimed, “The basis for my decision stemmed from my own awareness of how kneeling is perceived by some in our country, and I did not think a number of our alumni, friends, and donors of the College would view the act of kneeling during the anthem in a positive way.” [Emphasis added.] He also said that he decided to act after seeing reports of the kneeling on local TV news.  Bluefield is a Baptist institution located in Tazewell County.

A football player for Bluefield took to Twitter to stand in solidarity with the basketball players who knelt during the anthem. “Today I stood up for what I believe in and I peacefully protested social injustice during my football practice. Colored inequality has occurred on my college campus and within my community against student athletes recently and that’s wrong.” 

According to the president, players ignored the head coach’s “suggestions of alternate forms of more constructive protest.”

Protesters at Bluefield are cautioned to heel themselves.


As VoxFairfax described in Jim Crow Medical Ethics in Virginia (Nov. 9, 2020), https://wp.me/p9wDCF-1Vu, in 1968, a Black factory worker suffered a head injury while with friends and taken to the hospital at the Medical College of Virginia, where he died. Without the consent of his family, doctors harvested his heart for transplant into a White patient — the first heart  in Virginia, and the 16th in the world at the time. Now, author Chip Jones is calling on VCU Health to issue a public apology for its treatment of the individual and his family.

Jones’ book, “The Organ Thieves: The Shocking Story of the First Heart Transplant in the Segregated South,” was published last August after three years of research. It details the story of the man’s injury, his death, and his family’s struggle with medical and legal systems after he died. 

A VCU spokesperson said in an email that the university reached out to the family with a formal apology after Jones’ book was published. “Institutionally, we very much wanted to honor [the individual] and were hoping to do so by working closely with his family,” the spokesperson  said. But the only family member the university was able to locate was his son, who hasn’t responded to the university’s requests for communication.

This was not just a one-off. According to a VCU professor, director of the Department of African American Studies, medical abuse of Black bodies preceded this case. In 2011 he made a documentary about the history of grave robbing for medical dissection in Richmond. (“Until the Well Runs Dry: Medicine and the Exploitation of Black Bodies”.) More than a hundred years before this man’s heart was taken, grave robbers would dig up bodies from enslaved people’s graveyards and bring them to the medical college, where White students used them for research and dissection. This professor went on that while a public apology is a good start, the university needs to go further by compensating the family or naming a university building after the individual. And, he said, VCU should acknowledge that much of their past research came from stolen bodies and organs.

Systemic racism incubates eminent disdain.


Water is vital for all forms of life. But politics often clouds how we see it. To quote writer Theodore White, A liberal is a person who believes that water can be made to run uphill. A conservative is someone who believes everybody should pay for his water. I’m somewhere in between: I believe water should be free, but that water flows downhill. 

Apparently conservatives run things in Bowling Green, Va. Some residents woke up a few weeks ago to see the town’s public utility workers turning off their water. A total of 251 Caroline County homes received notification that water would be disconnected for nonpayment. There were 78 such notices in the town of Bowling Green. Eighteen disconnections took place in Bowling Green last Monday. None had occurred elsewhere in the county.

The disconnection notices are the result of the county Board of Supervisors and Bowling Green Town Council both recently voting to implement an exemption from Gov. Ralph Northam’s moratorium on utility disconnections during the COVID-19 pandemic. The exemption states that if total arrearages exceed 1 percent of a utility provider’s annual operating budget, disconnections can take place.

Showing at least some obligatory concern, one Caroline County supervisor said, “Of course, there is concern. We want everybody to have their water. But at the same time, the county is not made of money and neither is the town.” You understand, right? We had no choice! There are ways that residents can apply for federal assistance, but according to town officials, people have been reluctant to submit paperwork. Likewise, they said, people who contact the authority and enter into a payment plan can have their water as usual, but few have availed themselves of this.

One official voted against the water shutoffs. A town councilmember, who is also the fire chief, said he was concerned that officials were combining those who may be taking advantage of the moratorium with others who are experiencing financial hardship. He noted that Rappahannock Electric Cooperative isn’t disconnecting customers, so perhaps the town shouldn’t either. He said when residents have their utilities shut off, it opens up the possibility of county officials condemning their homes. He said he doesn’t believe the town’s collection shortfall is enough to justify shutting off residents’ water. “I’m only one opinion on Town Council,” he said. “But I feel until things come back to a more normal day-to-day operation, there needs to be some leeway given.”

To that we say, Amen.










Categories: EDUCATION, FREE SPEECH, Health Care, HIGHER EDUCATION, Issues, Local, politics, State

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