Virginia’s Democratic Governor, Ralph Northam, is facing intense scrutiny for a photo posted on his medical school yearbook showing two men, one wearing blackface and the other a Ku Klux Klan robe and pointed hat. Northam initially apologized for the photo but later changed his story and said he wasn’t either of the students shown in the photo. However, the editor of the yearbook said that students chose the photos appearing on their page. Northam has vowed not to resign, but he continues to face increasing pressure to step down.
Today, two more revelations came to light about Virginia politicians and current office holders. Virginia’s Attorney General, Mark Herring, admitted that he appeared in blackface in 1980 during a college party in which he and other students dressed as rappers. Finally, Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor, Justin Fairfax, has been accused of sexual assault by one woman. He denies the allegation and has hired Washington attorneys to address the charge. From what we know now, he and the woman were alone in the hotel room, and he says the sex was consensual.
Northam, Fairfax, and Herring are all Democrats. If all three resigned, the speaker of Virginia’s House of Delegates would become the governor, and that person is Republican Kirk Cox.
It’s not clear how this situation will be resolved, but both Northam and Herring should have known better than to dress in blackface. That’s not remotely acceptable for white Americans to do in the 21st century, and it wasn’t when they were younger and in college either. Even more reprehensible is a college student wearing a KKK costume. Yes, Freedom of Speech allows it, but it’s offensive and disrespectful and young white men should know this.