Virginia Always Moves Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

By Karen

As of today, Virginia still has its Democratic governor, Ralph Northam, as well as (in order of succession) our lieutenant governor and attorney general. Here’s an update:

Governor Ralph Northam (white) admitted and apologized for, then denied, his presence in a photo on his medical school yearbook page of a man in blackface with another man in KKK robes. But he did cop to wearing blackface once to moonwalk like Michael Jackson. Then in misguidedly striving for pinpoint historical accuracy, Northam referred to slaves as “indentured servants” during an interview with Gayle King on CBS, which she immediately corrected.

Here’s more video of Northam and Gayle King. He comes across to me more as a country boy than a slick, lying politician, while Gayle seems to be fishing for reasons to be offended.

Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax (black) was accused of sexual assault in 2004 during a hotel room tryst gone bad at the Democratic Convention in Boston. Then a former college classmate piled on and accused him of raping her in 2000 at Duke. (NOTE: This same woman also accused of rape a student athlete who went on to play for the NBA).

Fairfax acknowledges both incidents happened, but denies they were nonconsensual. The General Assembly wants to investigate the charges before they try to impeach him.

Attorney General Mark Herring (white) out of the blue announced he’d worn blackface while impersonating a rapper nearly 40 years ago in college and has felt guilty about it for years – although it didn’t stop him from immediately calling for Northam to resign for the same offense. WTF?

As the digging continued, also uncovered was that Republican General Assembly Majority Leader Tom Norment (white) helped edit his Virginia Military Institute yearbook, which contained lots of racist photos and text he disavows any responsibility for.

The current session of the General Assembly passed a joint House and Senate resolution acknowledging “with profound regret the existence and acceptance of” – wait for it – LYNCHING. They would like to see reconciliation among all Virginians. Better late than never.

Are you detecting a pattern here?

Out of idle curiosity, I checked to see if my alma mater, the University of Richmond, was racist back in the day. I was forcibly enrolled my freshman year without applying after my father’s job caused a family transfer here from Massachusetts in 1972. I only have the 1973 yearbook because I dropped out in disgust in 1974.

(NOTE: I returned in 1979 to UR’s night school, earned a bachelor’s degree, and have since taught some business writing classes there, so it had a happy ending.)

First, let me set the scene: The University of Richmond is a private college in the city of Richmond. The oldest census I could find was from 2000, when the racial makeup of the city was 57.2% African American, 38.3% white, and the rest other races. Richmond wasn’t any whiter back in 1972.

UR’s undergraduate schools were segregated by gender, with women’s and men’s colleges. There were also night, law and business schools.

In scouring the 294-page yearbook, I found exactly six black students and one Asian. The only dicey photo was of a fraternity I won’t name posing with a Confederate flag. I’ve also blurred the faces in case anybody’s famous now…

In case you’re wondering, here’s me as a freshman. Don’t I look delighted to find myself at a segregated Southern school?

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that the 1980 UR yearbook contained a photo of a black man standing on a table with his head playfully in a noose, surrounded by Klansmen.

Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War. Until the mass shooting in a South Carolina church by a Confederacy-obsessed punk that caused the whole country to question this ongoing fixation, it seemed a day didn’t go by where there wasn’t some reminder or “late-breaking development” in the Civil War. To be suddenly shocked – SHOCKED! – about all this racist behavior is disingenuous beyond belief. None of it has ever been covert if you paid attention.

But now, some good news.

  • The University of Richmond’s current president is Ronald Crutcher, the first black man to hold that position, ushering in a new era of diversity and inclusion.
  • Virginia was the only southern state that Hillary Clinton won in the last election.
  • Virginia elected Democrats to the top three positions in our government in the last election, and the General Assembly is hanging on to its Republican majority by its toenails.
  • Richmond City Council just voted to rename a major thoroughfare after a native son, the late black tennis player Arthur Ashe. The Boulevard will now be Arthur Ashe Boulevard after years of debate and opposition. (NOTE: In 1996, again after years of debate, the city erected a statue of Arthur Ashe on Monument Avenue, amid several statues of losing Confederate generals.)

When I published my last post, I was in a tiny minority saying that Governor Northam should not resign, but public opinion is coming around to my thinking. A recent Washington Post poll showed 58% support for Northam among blacks.

Without a doubt, all this Klan and blackface stuff is thoughtless, shameful and hurtful. But while we have Trump in the White House, an avowed sexual predator whose tweets and inflammatory insults keep racial hatred roiling, we don’t need to be throwing the babies out with the bathwater, especially now that they’ve had their comeuppance.

13 Responses to Virginia Always Moves Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

  1. MorganLF says:

    Karen,
    I am in agreement.

    Northnam is a douche. Using the trump fake news angle, it was me not me, etc. Like trump, lying in our faces, he’s lost all cred with me.

    He should have owned it and apologized, now he looks like a mope. But I bet he stays.

    I wish Franken had. His honk-honk picture was nothing…and the slut in the pic, Tweeden,( who has posed with her tits and ass hanging our many times) was complicit in posing for the photo in which he wasn’t touching her, Hell we’ve all done worse! Karen I agree with your assessment Gillebrand the turncoat, saw him as a rival and torched him. The flip flopping bitch.

    I’ve never been in black face. I have done white mime face, is that racist? Just asking.

    Minstrels are a fact of history. Shameful but there. Black face is a disgrace, but the least of many insults like “ many fine people on both sides”, rapists, mocking disabled, mocking gold star mothers, pussy grabbing and the rest.

    trump was in fact taken to court by Nixon’s DOJ for racist, discriminatory, rental practices in the 1970s, shouldn’t he be hounded out of office?

    The south is no place for me. Confederate statues & flags enrage me. The constitution says “treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them”. Taking up arms against their own government and killing American soldiers seeking to destroy the US is deeply offensive to me.

    So I don’t pretend to understand black face but you don’t get much of that in Jersey, but I will admit there are times I have laughed at it. While I loathe racism to my core, does that make me a hypocrite?

  2. muller says:

    that gayle woman is positively rude. i would have told her to go to hell with that line of questioning, partic the comment about being nice to the wife on valentines day. 35 years ago. FFS you’d think he’d murdered someone.

  3. catsworking says:

    Morgan, if you lived down here, your hair would be on fire 24/7. They really never have gotten over the Civil War. It’s only the recent influx of people from up north and immigrants that’s diluted the attitude.

    I’ve never had the slightest bit of sympathy for the Confederacy and think the South was very lucky that Lincoln chose to forgive instead of string everyone up for treason. Had he lived and continued to set the example, maybe the South wouldn’t still have such a chip on its shoulder today.

    Northam reminds me of Sheriff Andy Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show. To come as far as he has, there has to be a certain amount of scheming and ego there, but he truly did seem to be blindsided by that photo coming out. His kneejerk reaction was to immediately apologize, which was his biggest mistake. He apparently didn’t have handlers and PR people around him (then), and he totally muffed it. Everything he’s said since then has only dug his hole deeper. I actually felt sorry for him talking to Gayle King.

    The black people here seem to be able to see past his young stupidity (probably because they’ve seen so much of it) and they’re NOT all screaming for his head, so I think we should give him a break.

    Besides, Northam’s on the right side of policy on just about everything. And I think this episode has burned him so badly, he’s going to really push to move Virginia in the right direction on improving race relations, which can only be a good thing. Some have suggested that one way to show his remorse would be to get all those Confederate generals off of Monument Avenue and put them in a museum, which I think he was for when he campaigned.

    On the other hand, it would totally gut Monument Avenue, which is quite lovely, with stately homes and a brick street with a wide grassy median. Like Atlanta in Gone With the Wind before Sherman came through. But they could put other statues up at the intersections.

  4. catsworking says:

    muller, it’s usually Norah O’Donnell I want to smack when she tries to go all “hardcore journalist” on someone, but Gayle has apparently been taking notes. I was impressed by how well Northam kept his cool, didn’t take any of the bait, and answered her respectfully as “Miss King” (that’s a Southern thing) in spite of her somewhat in-your-face questioning.

    After the interview, she says something about needing to “hear more” about his use of shoe polish. WTF? He’s said he used it when he dressed up like Michael Jackson for a dance contest. What else does she need to know about that?

    I used to watch CBS This Morning when Charlie Rose was on because he was the only one not playing at being a journalist. (I believe Gayle’s only qualification for anything she’s ever done in TV is being Oprah’s BFF.) But when Charlie got outed as a pig and they replaced him with that other insipid guy, I tuned out and never went back.

    Footnote to that story: Gayle used to flirt and throw herself at Charlie Rose until it became pathetic. She made it known she was totally traumatized to learn he’d been hitting on every other female at the network. I’m sure her thoughts were, “Why not ME, God? WHY. NOT. MMMMMEEEEEEEE????!!!”

  5. muller says:

    i’ve seen some charlie on youtube. v good interviewer, bit like dick cavett. good prog w/ gore vidal as guest.

  6. catsworking says:

    Yes, Charlie Rose was old-school journalism, when they had integrity, didn’t try to shame the people they interviewed but dug for facts, and it wasn’t all about advancing their own opinions and biases. I was surprised and beyond disappointed to find out he’s been a total lech for years.

  7. L Villeneuve says:

    As an aside to the grim state of current politics, Zamir is hosting a short cruise to Cuba in honor of Tony in October. Sounds like fun, all are invited.

  8. catsworking says:

    LV, thanks for that intel. I haven’t heard about this. I’ve never been to Cuba. I’m going to have to check into this because I need a cruise BADLY. But I just read about a cruise being turned away there and having to divert to the Bahamas, so I hope relations aren’t going south. On the other hand, I think the ship was carrying a lot of Cubans from Florida who were trying to visit family and weren’t welcome.

  9. Lorraine Villeneuve says:

    Ii believe it’s $800 including a Zamir reception in Miami, all food and drinks, as well as a guided group tour of Havana.

  10. catsworking says:

    LV, I got the info on Zamir’s cruise after finding a tweet about it. Five nights from Ft. Lauderdale to Key West and Havana (overnight) with one sea day, on Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas (which I sailed on back in 1994!). It’s not “all drinks,” but only nonalcoholic beverages. Royal Caribbean sells various drink packages that can run you $50+ per day, and the drinks are expensive if purchased singly (which I always do because on my worst bender I can’t justify the price of the drink package).

    I would be sailing alone, so the cruise fare would be doubled (the port charges wouldn’t be). So it would run me roughly $1,500. For a 5-day cruise on what is probably the oldest ship in Royal’s fleet, it seems pricey. (Of course, this is probably a deal where if Zamir can sell 10 or more cabins, he gets his for free, so that’s built into what everybody else pays).

    All my travel plans are on hold while I’m seeing my cat Adele into her 19th year. Her health is fragile and I can’t leave her with anybody. She’s losing ground slowly, and may very well be gone by October, but I don’t want to make long-term plans and jinx her. It seems every time I book a cruise, something bad happens to one of the cats right before I have to leave.

  11. muller says:

    19th year? that’s one mature moggie. good luck to her.
    that is quite pricey.my cousin ud a cruise recently that was diverted due to a hurricane. new jersey to florida (where he lives).

  12. muller says:

    waiting on your analysis of recent events!

  13. catsworking says:

    Great minds think alike. I’m working on a post today!

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