Everyone Makes Mistakes: Bellamy should not resign from City Council
February 27, 2017
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It was a quiet day with quiet weather and bleach-white clouds blanketing the midday sky. I stood with two other friends in a steadily growing crowd, now in the hundreds, with a burning candle in each hand. The air was humid and smelled like wax and rain. Charlottesville vice mayor Wes Bellamy was in the center of the crowd, speaking in a proud, defiant voice no one else could muster at this Orlando shooting vigil.
That was my second impression of Bellamy — I had already covered the Tom Tom Festival he spoke at last year, where I heard him speak about persistence and good will and never letting go of a dream.
On June 13, I marched with Bellamy across the Downtown Mall and memorized his chant, “We’re here, we’re queer, stop killing us!” Now, as I write this in December, the flood of violent and mournful emotions come pouring back to me and I can so clearly remember the faith we all had that day in Wes Bellamy.
Nov. 24, blogger Jason Kessler posted a criticism of Bellamy’s old tweets that exhibit outright racism, sexism, and homophobia. The tweets, dated from 2009 to 2014, are loaded with slurs, rape jokes, and anti-white ramblings.
I won’t sugar-coat those tweets. No one can deny that they exhibit the xenophobic misconceptions of a young man who hasn’t completely experienced the world yet. The man who wrote them was ignorant while trying to get into a position of leadership.
I’ve been there. I used to think queer people were scary and I held ingrained misconceptions about other races and religions. I wasn’t aware of my ingrained biases and I made mistakes that I regret to this day.
Everyone has been in the same situation as Bellamy, without the mass interrogation. No human being was born and raised without bias and ignorance. Realizing your mistakes and moving on is a part of growing up and maturing.
“In the course of trying to mature and find my way I came to some false conclusions about the world around me and made them known,” Bellamy wrote on his Facebook page.
Bellamy is not describing a super-phenomena or rarity, he’s describing the human process of mistake and correction.
I’ve never believed in punishing someone without offering a proper chance of redemption, and Bellamy has definitely redeemed himself while in office as vice mayor.
Through his youth program, H.Y.P.E. (Helping Young People Evolve), he’s worked to encourage kids to put their future first.
When presenting at the Tom Tom Festival, Bellamy inspired a crowd of young entrepreneurs and trailblazers to follow their wildest dreams.
At the Orlando vigil, he moved a somber, depressed crowd to tears and then cheers with hopes for a better future.
I’m just an Albemarle County resident who couldn’t even vote for Bellamy, but his term as vice mayor has made Charlottesville a safer space for me.
When judging whether or not Bellamy can continue to serve Charlottesville as a successful vice mayor, his past misgivings can’t overshadow the good he’s already done and the impact he’s already made with students like me.
If both sides of the scale are weighed, I believe Bellamy still has the right to serve Charlottesville to the best of his ability without suffering unjustly from his past mistakes.
However, I’m not qualified to speak about his resignation from teaching at Albemarle High School; I’ve never had him as a teacher and I’ve never met him in a classroom environment.
Bellamy has stated that returning to his teaching job this year isn’t “the right thing to do for the young people at the high school,” according to The Cavalier Daily. If this resignation really is simply a break to reflect, I look forward to the day he returns to AHS and continues to make change as a Patriot teacher. Until then, he’ll continue to correct past mistakes and rebuild himself into a better person.