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Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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Virginia Governor Ralph Northam recently had an image of him released from his 1984 medical school yearbook, showing him in a racist outfit. The picture depicted two people, one dressed up as blackface, the other in a KKK outfit. (See above). At first, the governor admitted it was him in the yearbook and issued an apology. However, he then said that after he discussed thing with his past classmates, he thinks it’s not actually him in the picture. Many people, including his own party, the Democrats, urged him to resign. Virginia Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner and Virginia Representative Bobby Scott said, “Governor Northam has served the people of the Commonwealth faithfully for many years, but the events of the past 24 hours have inflicted immense pain and irrevocably broken the trust Virginians must have in their leaders. He should step down and allow the Commonwealth to begin healing.” Despite this statements, Northam resisted the call to resign and stated, “My fellow Virginians, earlier today I released a statement apologizing for behavior in my past that falls far short of the standard you set for me when you elected me to be your governor. I believe you deserve to hear directly from me.”
My fellow Virginians, earlier today I released a statement apologizing for behavior in my past that falls far short of the standard you set for me when you elected me to be your governor. I believe you deserve to hear directly from me. pic.twitter.com/1rSw1oxfrX— Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) February 2, 2019
As a campaign crisis communications issue, this whole thing could have been handled far better than it was.
Northam HAD to know he had that pic in his yearbook. He was running for governor at one point, and I am sure someone on his staff had the talk with him about skeletons in the closet. At that point, Northam either chose not to disclose that to his team, or he did, and his team decided that playing ostrich was preferable to getting out in front of it.
Either way, they were incredibly naive to think something like that would never come out. Had I been with the campaign, I would have used that photo as the platform for a town hall meeting about racism. One of the biggest challenges in this country is the threat of casual racism. If you’ve ever seen someone say I’m not a racist, but — then you know what I mean by that term. It’s Tom Brokaw doing his grumpy old man act telling Hispanics they need to do a better job of assimilation. It’s the mid-westerners who say I’m not anti-immigrant. I just want people to speak English if they live in America. These people DO NOT recognize that these statements are racist, because their moms and dads used the N-word daily, so by an order of magnitude, these people think they are mainstream by comparison.
And there’s the rub. They’re not wrong. These views are far more mainstream than they deserve to be, which is why that high school yearbook photo could have been used positively by Candidate Northam to talk about how easy it is to fall down that rabbit hole.
This was me in high school, comfortable enough in my privilege and my naivety to think that this was funny. What’s worse is that the teacher who was the yearbook adviser thought the same. But it was wrong then, and it’s even more wrong now. I knew nothing. I had no context. A teenager’s world back then was very small, as compared to today’s teens, who are connected to the world through technology in ways we never could have dreamed. I was not an enlightened boy, but I am an enlightened man, and I wanted to show you these photos to make a point — racism doesn’t just live in the world of extremists who burn crosses, but it also lives and breathes in our communities and in our heartland in far more surreptitious ways, in between the lines of conversations. Certainly, we must repudiate people who dress in white hooded robes and sling Nazi slogans, but we must also reject it in these smaller forms, as well, whether it’s in casual conversation or in an old high school yearbook photo. We must do better than this because America is better than this.
Instead of resigning, which is what the party will force him to do, he could have championed a whole new movement to erase racism from our hearts and minds. It was a missed opportunity, and he deserves to go not just because of the racist optics, but because he was stupid. And stupidity has to have consequences.
The past is the past. We shouldn’t make as big of a deal as the media are making now. Everyone has done stupid things in the past. People change a lot in a few decades. We shouldn’t be criticizing a politician for every little mistake they made. I bet if we dug up every single governor/senator/rep’s past, we would find many more similar circumstances. More importantly are a governor’s current views and actions. With the big deal the media is making about the image, you would think its life-changing. However, who hasn’t told a racist joke once? Northam shouldn’t resign. The important thing is to learn from one’s mistakes. We could dig up every bad thing that Hilliary Clinton did, or everything that Trump did. What would be the point? To prove that they make mistakes? To prove that they’re human? This is a fatal flaw with the Democrat party. They will stress over any tiny mistake that might hurt their “liberal” status. Equal rights and anti-racism are great, and I fully support the movements. However, there isn’t a single person that hasn’t done something that was racist or sexist. Trust me.
I think it is newsworthy to show two young men in Halloween garb over 30 years ago??? And to make this guy a racist for dressing like a Black Man/KKK for a costume party?? Maybe it would be fun to go back over 30 years to seen how all the black entertainers and politicians that have shown such contempt for themselves and their own race as to surgically alter their own looks to appear more like the White ideal??
I would think that Michael Jackson almost removing his nose to appear more white as have a number of high profile Black Ladies, should be
more disturbing than an college punk smearing shoe polish on his face??
And what about the long list of half White/Black politicians and entertainers claiming to be Black?? Remember when light skinned Black people sadly would pass for White??
I find him to be so over the top in his baby killing views as to expose just how satanically far the Democrats have fallen and how
cowardly are the Republicans who will not stand up against at least late term abortions.
In my view, black americans should be more concerned about abortionists killing almost one half million black babies a year than either a few rouge cops or black face Halloween outfits.
We cover up illegal invader crimes, sex slave trafficking, drug importing, etc. because of hating Trump, while making cover story news of a costume photo from 1984 that some black folks might find offensive.
Yes, we have lost our minds, morals and more.
Since I could care less about some Baby Killing Democrat in a state packed with government dependent clowns, my view has just become more clear – the guy is a two faced Democrat on steroids. Keep in mind that baby killing of defectives was the gate way to Nazi extermination of Jews, Jehovah Witnesses, gays, political enemies, etc.
Women being insensitive to killing their own children is more disturbing to me than a politician not seeing the insensitivity of black face.
All statement here representing the opinions of an individual, not necessarily that of the party. These are by no means official statements.