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Governor Northam’s Troubling Silence on Racism

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Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia should resign. Not because he most likely wore blackface in the 1980s. He should resign because in 2019 he seems unwilling to address how, or whether, his views on race have evolved. His silence demonstrates a lack of integrity, and it’s disrespectful to one-fifth of Virginia’s electorate, the 87 percent of black Democrats whose votes heavily contributed to his election in 2017.

Recently, the governor equivocated when reporters confronted him about his 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook page, which had a picture of someone in blackface and another person in a Ku Klux Klan robe. He also revealed that on a different occasion he had worn blackface — or face-paint, as he has callously called it. (At least two other top Virginia officials are mired in blackface scandals.)

By the 1980s everyone understood that blackface fell into the category of socially unacceptable behavior. That’s why most of these pictures were taken at parties or appeared in predominantly white spaces, away from public scrutiny.

Blackface was never about mimicking black people. White entertainers wore it to amuse white crowds by playing into the most offensive and dehumanizing stereotypes. It is not simply the darkening of one’s face to look more like black people. It also involves exaggerating the physical features and movements of black people to the point of absurdity. Even if your........

© The New York Times