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Like Ralph Northam, I made a shameful costume choice in my youth: Confederate dress-up

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I can’t cast any stones at Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. Like him, I committed the sin of making a shameful costume choice in my youth. My regrettable behavior occurred at UC Berkeley in 1982, when I attended the Kappa Alpha Order’s Dixie Ball.

How did a native Southern Californian Jewish girl like me end up at a frat party wearing an antebellum ball gown complete with hoop skirt in celebration of antiquated Southern values? Back then, I was a 19-year-old sophomore casually dating a sweet blond-haired, blue-eyed Kappa Alpha guy. He invited me to be his date for Dixie Ball, a weekend event in Monterey capped by a Southern Confederacy theme dance. My sorority elders informed me that an invitation to Dixie Ball was an honor bestowed upon the lucky few.

One of my sorority sisters drove me and a few other “lucky” gals to a San Francisco costume shop to rent our elaborate Southern belle gowns. I remember thinking this all seemed weird and expensive. But as I gazed at myself in the costume shop mirror dressed like a comely Southern maiden, I fantasized about Clark Gable breaking a door down and lifting me into his arms.

We weren’t thinking as individuals. We engaged in........

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