Views on the News: Virginia Governor Controversy
Judah Weinerman ’20
The patently absurd nature of this Northam story reminds me of a quote from Twitter’s poet laureate @dril: “Turning a big dial that says ‘Racism’ on it and constantly looking back at the audience for approval like a contestant on the price is right.” From the initial admission of guilt and subsequent denial, to the claims of advanced facial recognition technology being applied to the photo, to the pivot that Northam was actually wearing the KKK hood instead, this situation would be horrifying if it wasn’t so stupid. The fact that a governor of a major U.S. state was seconds away from moonwalking during a press conference about his inability to stop doing blackface as a grown man before being stopped by his increasingly nervous wife is equal parts comic and tragic.
Frankly, Northam is a Grade A moron who desperately needs to resign. Every day he doesn’t is another chapter in an increasingly embarrassing saga, and his political career is likely dead as a doorknob once he leaves the Executive Mansion. However, any cries of racism coming from the Republican camp ring hollow. People who spend their waking hours desperately attempting to keep statues of Confederate slavers like Robert E. Lee standing in public spaces are in no position to argue from a point of racial tolerance. Don’t be fooled by another bad-faith argument from the party whose only real virtue is unabashed racial hatred.
Judah Weinerman is an Associate Editor for the Justice.
Nia Lyn ’19
I wholeheartedly feel that Governor Northam should resign. Anyone who thinks blackface is an appropriate way to emulate a celebrity at a party or competition is clearly not wise enough to be in a position of power. Wearing blackface isn’t a mistake — a mistake is accidentally calling a professor “mom” or “dad” by mistake. This was a decision that Northam, a competent adult, made completely disregarding the history of racism in the United States. This isn’t even something that he did in private; it was something that he did in a public setting and — if the yearbook photo is, in fact, him — he was completely fine with it being documented. Who is to know what he has done in private? Ideally, Northam should be held accountable for his actions, but the past year has made it clear that bigots, like our current president, are above the law.
Nia Lyn ’19 is an Associate Editor for the Justice.
Mara Khayter ’19
The way the public appears to deal with ignorance and feelings of accountability by terminating people from positions of power might feel impactful and righteous, but it encourages people to avoid facing and reflecting on their actions. There succeeds little discussion of what it means to create racist caricatures through costume, as well as recreating the likeness of a terrorist group as a costume. Undoubtedly there are more people who are in political positions who have yet to be, or never will be, "exposed" (and/or who likely feel this type of activity is relatively harmless). It would be wrong to skip over this event as if someone who has participated in outwardly racist acts is not capable of thinking differently in the present and can't "own up" to it by providing reparations in any form, specifically in positioning himself as someone who's willing to listen to those who have something substantial to say to him about how he may improve himself and perhaps use his governance to combat the same ignorance he participated in.
Mara Khayter ‘19 is a Computer Science major and a member of the Waltham Group.