Ralph Northam, governor of Virginia, insists that he is neither person shown in a racist photo in his medical school yearbook, of a person in blackface standing next to a person in Ku Klux Clan garb. When the photo was first publicized, Northam had apologized for his appearance in the photo. After further examination, however, Ralph Northam said he is certain that he was not one of the people in the racist photo.
On Friday, February 1, Northam apologized, stating, “This behavior is not in keeping with who I am today and the values I have fought for throughout my career in the military, in medicine, and in public service.”
On Saturday, however, amid growing calls for his resignation as Governor, Northam said, “I believe now and then that I am not either of the people in this photo…This was not me in that picture. That was not Ralph Northam.”
Even if Northam was not one of the people appearing in the photo, the question remains: Why was such a blatantly racist photo on a page in his yearbook – where space was fully devoted to photos, quotes, and stats pertaining to Ralph Northam?
Additionally, Northam has admitted to making other “mistakes on race” in his past. As part of a dance contest, for example, Northam blackened his face to portray Michael Jackson.
People do stupid or ignorant things, and sometimes, when they grow as human beings, they come to realize how regrettable or offensive some of their previous actions were. That may be the case for Ralph Northam.
Unfortunately, despite Ralph Northam’s attempts to distance himself from the now viral racist photo, he won’t be able to remove the stigma it has cast on his governorship. Reversing his stance from apology to denial has only weakened the trust of his constituency.
After meeting with Northam, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus said, “In light of his public admission and apology for his decision to appear in the photo, he has irrevocably lost the faith and trust of the people he was elected to serve… Changing his public story today now casts further doubt on his ability to regain that trust.”
Democrat lawmakers across the country, including Virginia’s two senators, are calling for Northam’s resignation.
Even Hilary Clinton weighed in, tweeting, “There is nothing to debate. He must resign.”
Virginia’s racist past makes it all the more crucial for its lawmakers not to be associated with white supremacy, racist intimidation, and racial stereotyping. Even though it was long ago, and no matter what Ralph Northam does now, he will always be linked to a racist photo.
Virginia Gov. Northam says he will not resign amid racist photo scandal |
Fox News | [2019-02-02]
Virginia governor resists calls to resign over racist yearbook photo |
CBS News [2019-02-04]