Democrats: It’s not just the blackface

shutdownI’ve written, recently and extensively, about my naivete on race issues, specific to the explosion of outright racist views in the marketplace since the beginning of the 2016 presidential campaign.

Turns out my self-aware naïvete was itself naïve.

Here I was, thinking it was just the crackas on the right who popped their heads out of their groundhog holes with the new normalization of racism with the rise of Donald Trump.

Over the past few days in Virginia, we’ve come to be reminded, to borrow from Trump, there are many fine people, in this respect, on both sides.

At least Mark Herring, the state attorney general, hasn’t tried, yet, to moonwalk his way out of his own controversy, which he acknowledged today, in copping to a 1980 incident in which he and a group of friends made themselves up in blackface and wigs to perform a hip-hop homage to Kurtis Blow.

Gov. Ralph Northam, famously, was thisclose to moonwalking for reporters, by way of trying to explain away his own admitted blackface homage to pop icon Michael Jackson in 1984.

Northam, also, first admitted, and now denies, to being in a photo that appeared on his medical-school yearbook page featuring one man in blackface standing beside a second man in a KKK hood and robe.

It was that photo, once it became public, that led to calls from the House and Senate Democratic Party caucuses and a slew of individual Democratic elected officials that Northam resign.

Now, with Herring, in his second term as attorney general, and a presumed frontrunner for the Democratic Party gubernatorial nomination in 2021, admitting to his own past blackface issue, wow, just, wow.

Republicans, of course, are pouncing, because, politics, though, if you’re a Republican in Virginia, you either recently backed as your favorite for governor Corey Stewart, whose gubernatorial campaign push to preserve public monuments to the Confederacy served as the proving ground for the 2017 Charlottesville nonsense, or Ed Gillespie, whose campaign ran TV ads scaring people into voting for him because of gangs, ex-felons voting and the aforementioned Confederate monuments, so, basically, nah, no moral high ground for you on this.

It’s the responses from some Democrats that are worrisome to me.

An odd Facebook post from a local Democratic Party leader defending Northam by claiming that the photo of the man in blackface with the man in the KKK getup is somehow a statement on racial harmony included a series of even odder comments from self-identified Democrats, along the lines of, I have black friends, they tell me they’re not offended, enough of this already, he was just wearing a costume, what’s the big deal.

I expect people who identify as Republicans to not get it, to get defensive, to write off casual racism.

Democrats, I assumed, I realize now, naïvely, surely get it.

Our side is supposed to be about equality, justice, inclusion.

It’s now starting to sink in that, we’ve got issues on our side, and it’s not just Ralph Northam and Mark Herring in blackface.

Column by Chris Graham


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