America’s racist history is repeating itself as farce in the southern stateby Diane Roberts / February 8, 2019 / Leave a comment
No matter how much Americans hate this idea, the past is never dead. Nor is it past. Especially in the grand old Commonwealth of Virginia, the first English colony in North America, the cradle of presidents, and now the place where America’s racist history has come back to bite us on the bum.
Ralph Northam, Virginia’s newly-elected governor, may be forced to resign. A conservative news site unearthed a truly ghastly photo from his 1984 medical school yearbook (Northam is a pediatrician) of one white man in minstrel show makeup standing next to another man in Ku Klux Klan robes and hood.
Northam’s handling of this was about as graceful as a greased pig on a polished floor. First he told the world that yes, alas, he was the blackface guy. Or maybe the Klan guy. He wasn’t sure. But he was very, very sorry. Then a couple of days later, he held a news conference to say that, upon reflection, he’d decided he wasn’t either of those guys were him. However, he had indeed appeared in blackface in 1984, dressed up as Michael Jackson for a dance contest. He’d learned to moonwalk, you see: “I had the shoes. I had a glove, and I used just a little bit of shoe polish to put under my—or on my—cheeks,” Northam said.“The reason I used a very little bit is because, I don’t know if anybody’s ever tried that, but you cannot get shoe polish off.”
Both Virginia’s United States senators as well as many in its congressional delegation immediately urged Northam to resign and allow Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, who is African American and also said Northam should resign, to take over as governor.
No sooner than the newspapers began running stories on how Fairfax would become Virginia’s second black governor, Big League Politics, the same online site that outed Northam, reported accusations that Fairfax sexually assaulted a political science professor in 2004. Fairfax says it was a consensual encounter. She says he lured her to his hotel room “to retrieve documents,” began kissing her, then forced himself on her. The National Organisation for Women, Hillary Clinton, and presidential candidate Julian Castro, among others, are calling for him to step down, too.
If Fairfax goes, next in line to be governor…