Editor's Note

Read and reflect on “Let America Be America Again” by Langston Hughes

A strident reminder of our country’s long argument with itself, this poem hits home after a day that began with Cory Booker’s presidential announcement and ended with Ralph Northam’s apology. His surely upcoming resignation may gratify our anger and disbelief, but we must not pretend it solves anything. Structural racism still plagues our country, a birth wound that never heals because we pretend all that blood, the scraped flesh and unrelenting pain is normal, inevitable, acceptable.

I was shocked when I moved to Virginia and learned that the rebel flag flew over a local city hall until the mid-1990s. Learning how segregation affected every part of life here from the schools to the churches during my own lifetime made me realize that it’s horrid legacy still lives. It compelled me to dedicate time to introspection, education and action.

I’ve always admired Langston Highly and his work inspired me to write poetry. His poems sing with clarity through their imagery, but they are not enough. Words can point us toward our shared dreams, but only hard work will lead us through the darkness to that great, shining land of liberty and justice for all.

Wild Virginia

Virginia Exports Bulls. To Russia. Really.

Holstein dairy cows from http://www.ars.usda.g...
Image via Wikipedia

Yep. Virginia cow farmers are making a concerted effort to send some of their finest bulls to Russia. Apparently decades of communism and turmoil have depleted the breeding stock. And Russian cow farmers prefer actual animals to the shipments of semen or embryos that seem to suffice elsewhere… because there aren’t a lot of artificial insemination livestock experts hanging around? Either that, or they just love these beautiful Holsteins so much they have to have them the way a car lover just has to have a Ferrari.

I suspect it’s a case of total Holstein love more than the article’s claim that Russians are ‘lacking expertise in assisted bovine reproductive technology.’ Couldn’t they acquire that expertise faster than the ten years it took to negotiate this deal? Right now, the Russians are the only country with regular space flights. Ok, occasionally a satellite launch goes awry and skywatchers pontificate about space debris while comedians crack jokes about Russian probes, but the farmers of Russia could surely inseminate a cow if they wanted to.

Russia may be poor, corrupt and completely hostage to unfortunate social patterns, but it is actually a decently educated country. Adult literacy is nearly 100%. Check out these UNESCO statistics. When compared to the United States, there’s a spending and quality issue at the university level but you can’t say Russians aren’t smart enough to inseminate cows, complicated though it may be.

They just want our Holsteins.

And they want them bad, bad enough to negotiate for ten years just to acquire sixty bulls.


For one thing, they are beautiful animals.

And for another, they are profitable and productive for farmers. Holstein Association USA includes the phrase ‘for maximum profit’ in its logo. The government reports that Holsteins are “well known around the world for her ability to produce large volumes of milk, butterfat and protein. She is a very profitable cow for farmers when large amounts of feed with high levels of grain are available.” Apparently Holsteins can produce nearly three times as much milk a year compared to Russian cows, which were bred for both meat and dairy production and not great at either.

Don’t worry. American ranchers are exporting Angus and Hereford bulls  at an even faster pace so Russia will soon have plenty of steak. And milk. NSRW Dairy Industry 1 Russians are so desperate to improve their herds they will do anything to improve productivity from their animals, including giving them televisions and bras because a mere pasture isn’t enough.

But back to Virginian dairy farmers. They’re cleverly taking advantage of the low dollar and the high demand for their product and it’s a great business concept, for now. In a few years, the Russian dairy herd will recover. What’s the next step for Virginia dairies? Perhaps the Virginia Dairy Princess knows…