Blackface Within Our Government

By Trey Waddy

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has been under constant pressure following the surfacing of an old medical yearbook photo of him wearing blackface from 1984. The photo in question has what seems to be Northam in blackface standing next to someone dressed as a Ku Klux Klan member.

Ralph Northam’s 1984 Yearbook Page

Though Northam denies any connection to the racist blackface photo, he made a statement that only served to make matters worse: He has done blackface in the past.

During an interview on Saturday in which he addressed the growing concerns about the yearbook photo, Northam recalled a dance contest in which he performed as Michael Jackson, stating that, “That same year, I did participate in a dance contest in San Antonio in which I darkened my face as part of a Michael Jackson costume.” In defense of his own actions, he claimed to have been  oblivious to the racist implications of blackface at the time, stating “I did not understand the harmful legacy of an action like that.”

With all of this information weighing against him, many have demanded his resignation such as Virginia politicians Rep. Bobby Scott, Sen. Mark Warner, and Sen. Tim Kaine, as well as 2020 Democratic presidential candidates such as former Vice President Joe Biden and California Senator Kamala Harris.

Despite Northam’s apology on what he described as the “clearly racist” matter of the yearbook photo, he still refuses to resign, pleading with the public that it was not him in the photo. He is currently awaiting further investigation by his staffers by using facial-recognition software to clear his name.