Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D, Despite Misleading CNN Crawler) held a press conference Saturday to assert that he did not appear in photo from 1984 that depicted two party-goers in racist clothing (one in blackface, one in a KKK white robe and hood), although he apologized for the incident Friday.
His reasoning in reaching this conclusion was a little curious, though. In a nutshell, he said that photo wasn’t him, but he’d apologized because he knew that he had worn blackface during that time in his life, and that in 1984 he didn’t realize it was racist to do so.
For those who haven’t been glued to Twitter or their televisions, on Friday a photo of Northam’s page in the 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook was released. Four photos were shown under Northam’s name; one of the photos showed one man in blackface and one in a Ku Klux Klan white robe and hood.
Virginia Democrat governor Ralph Northam posed for a blackface photograph. Photos from Northam’s time at the Eastern Virginia Medical School, where he graduated in 1984. Northam and a friend were photographed together — 1 in blackface, 1 in Klan robes. Grounds for resignation.??♂️ pic.twitter.com/lI5otOM9g1
— John Filipovic (@johnflipside) February 1, 2019
Another photo was released from Northam’s Virginia Military Institute yearbook. One of his listed nicknames was “Coonman.”
MORE YEARBOOK FUN: Gov. Ralph Northam’s nickname at VMI was ‘Coonman’ t.co/sMqYJ7oldg
— Twitchy Team (@TwitchyTeam) February 1, 2019
Though both the Virginia Republican Party and the Virginia Democratic Party have called for Northam to resign, he’s refused to do so.
Best you just resign and be quiet #RalphNortham “I believe that is not me,though I did use #BlackFace at a dance contest as #MichaelJackson” “ I also played BuckWheat in a play and my favorite book was #LittleBlackSambo and my wife dressed as #AuntJemima once” pic.twitter.com/v7yMwT7Sbp
— Mike Connor (@michaelhconnor) February 2, 2019
In Saturday’s press conference, he said:
“…I am not the person in that photo. While I did not appear in this photo, I am not surprised by its appearance in the EVMS yearbook. In the place and time where I grew up, many actions that we rightfully recognize as abhorrent today were commonplace. My belief that I did not wear that costume or attend that party stems in part from my clear memory of other mistakes I made in the same period of my life.
“That same year, I did participate in a dance contest in San Antonio in which I darkened my face as part of a Michael Jackson costume. I look back now and regret that I did not understand the harmful legacy of an action like that. It is because my memory of that episode is so vivid that I truly believe I am not in that picture in my yearbook.”
For the moment, I’ll suppress any comment on Northam appearing in a dance contest. (But I look forward to any video released.) But is his argument seriously that he had to consult with family and friends to determine he wasn’t in the picture, and he knows that because he doesn’t remember that party but remembers being in blackface at other events? Is it possible he drank so much he doesn’t remember that particular racist party?
“I’d like to apologize for my apology for the racist picture I thought was me, but wasn’t. I was thinking of a different racist picture, not this one. I take back my apology for this picture and will apologize again later when the other picture comes out.” #northam #blackface
— Jon Nelson (@jonmnelson) February 2, 2019
He can’t really walk away from the VMI yearbook. Surely he’s looked at his own yearbook photo at some point since he received it?
— Dinesh D’Souza (@DineshDSouza) February 2, 2019
He’s now saying that his main nickname was Goose, but that some older kids (bullies, I’m sure he will claim at some point) called him “Coonman,” and it ended up in the yearbook and, “I regret that.”
— Mike Connor (@michaelhconnor) February 2, 2019
Has anyone asked to see what the process was for including nicknames next to a student in a yearbook? Each school handles that differently, so it could be that others the year ahead of him had such an influence that they were able to have their special nickname for Northam included in the yearbook. But it could also be that he’s grasping for whatever excuse he can find.
In addition, how is it that with all of the talk of race during the gubernatorial contest nobody unearthed this information? One of the first steps of opposition research, especially in the case of a race that’s in the national news, is to look at yearbooks. Heck, I’ve even been asked to look at my own yearbooks to see what is said about certain politicians who attended my high school. The failure to unearth this before now is pretty massive.
Northam knew full well that these photos were there, but counted on his allies in the press to cover it up. But he claimed the moral high ground and now thinks he can just say, “Whoops, my bad.” That’s not how it works. It’s time for Northam to resign.