Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
Last weekend, it was revealed that Doug Mastriano wore a Confederate military uniform for a faculty photo at the Army War College. Out of all the faculty members who decided to dress as historical figures in 2013, Mastriano was the only one to wear a Confederate uniform.
The Army War College has, rightly, since removed the photo, saying it does not meet their values—and it certainly does not meet Pennsylvania’s values.
As a proud American and a Black man running to be the first Black lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, this news is alarming. But it also makes clear the stakes of this race and the very real danger that Mastriano poses to our Commonwealth.
Throughout my personal and professional life, I have experienced racism, ignorance and hate both in my face and in Harrisburg. However, this is very different. Mastriano is propagating white supremacy and racism by showing support for the losing side of a war that was fought to end slavery—in a state that wasn’t even part of the confederacy.
I remember asking my Dad as a child what the confederacy stood for. He not only taught me the history, but he warned me of the dangers that history still poses to our society. He told me how when people pay reverence to the confederacy, they are showing support for white supremacy, for hate, and for our enslavement.
Mastriano is running for the highest office in our Commonwealth and he time and again has proven to be the most dangerous and radical nominee to ever run for governor.
Throughout his campaign, he has continued to associate with far-right extremists, from having far-right militia groups march with his campaign to paying thousands of dollars to the white supremacist website Gab to recruit extremists and white supremacists to his campaign. He has not only refused to distance himself from these groups and failed to condemn Gab’s antisemitism, but he’s gone as far as to embrace Gab’s CEO and founder Andrew Torba.
Now, Mastriano is propagating white supremacy and racism—and it’s crystal clear the message he is sending and the campaign he is running.
While Josh Shapiro and I travel across the Commonwealth, listening to folks about the challenges they’re facing and sharing our plans to create jobs, boost the economy, improve our schools, and keep our communities safe—Mastriano has made known what his priorities are and who he’s fighting for.
Working-class people run this Commonwealth, and as the son of a hairdresser and a union bus driver, I know their struggles all too well. Mastriano’s priorities are not what they want or need right now. This extremism is not going to help them pay their bills, make sure their kids have every opportunity to succeed or move our Commonwealth forward
One of our Commonwealth’s biggest strengths is its diversity, from the suburbs of Philadelphia to the old steel towns in the Mon Valley. It is that diversity that has always made Pennsylvania a place where all are welcome.
Pennsylvanians don’t have time for Mastriano’s extremism or the chaos he’d bring as governor—they deserve more—they deserve leaders who will bring them relief and tackle the challenges they’re facing right now.
Through his consistent actions and dangerous far-right agenda, Mastriano has made known to every Pennsylvanian and to every American the threat he poses to our Commonwealth and what he would do with his power if elected governor.
This is a critical moment for all of us and an opportunity for us to denounce hate in all its forms. When I was running to be the first Black representative outside the city of Pittsburgh, I never let this kind of hate stop me, and I’m not going to back down now. I know the importance of our diversity and I know that together we will rise above this division and ensure that our Commonwealth remains a place where all are respected, supported and welcomed.
State Rep. Austin Davis is a candidate for lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania who is running with gubernatorial candidate Attorney General Josh Shapiro to help tackle the challenges facing Pennsylvanians and to create opportunities for communities too often left behind. He’s a first-generation college student who is the son of a hairdresser and a union bus driver, and the first Black state representative from Western Pennsylvania outside of the city of Pittsburgh.
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