The debate on alleged blackface racism doesn’t allow for grey areas

Virginia’s governor, Ralph Northam, with his wife Pam during a news conference. Picture: AP Photo/Steve Helber

Three politicians in Virginia have brought a new meaning to the phrase “succession planning”. In addition, they have changed the harmless school year book into a ticking career timebomb, writes Terry Prone.

The first guy is Governor Ralph Northam, who confessed to wearing blackface in school. This meant he used burnt cork, back in the mid-1980s, to make himself look like an African-American, and right sorry he is for so doing. On the other hand, he says, he is definitely not the blacked-up white student in the picture in his school yearbook and standing beside another student dressed in Ku Klux Klan headgear. That’s someone else, and he isn’t resigning over it.

Now, maybe advanced facial-recognition technology could identify the photographed student in the hat, the bow tie, and the shiny black face, but that’s not the point. The point is that, when he believed it was him, Northam confirmed that he had worn blackface, apologised for it, and refused to resign over something he’d done decades before. Now, he says it isn’t him in the picture, and he’s still not resigning, despite much public clamour for him to do just that.

Sign in or register for FREE to continue enjoying and to comment on our great range of opinion writers

Not a member yet? Register here

More on this topic

Facebook and Instagram respond to PFA’s anti-racism campaign

Manchester United condemn racial abuse of Ashley Young

Kick It Out calls for action after Ashley Young is targeted with racial abuse

Hennessey defence shows need for education – Kick It Out

More in this Section

COMEBACK QUEEN: Nancy Pelosi's next battle may be toughest yet

Shocking murder of Lyra McKee a chilling tragedy

We’re running out of time on climate melting pot

Garda still a force to be reckoned with

More by this author

Why Tom Hanks is light years ahead of every other celebrity

Bezos’ behaviour makes the 19th century industrialists look saintly

Missing boy’s impersonator only doubles pain for hopeful family

With no experience of changing the world, they did it anyway


Lifestyle

Video: This chocolate facial is the perfect Easter-themed pampering

Wine with Leslie Williams

The Menu: Food news with Joe McNamee

Restaurant Review: Circa Restaurant, 90 Terenure Road North, Dublin 6w

More From The Irish Examiner