Society is troubled by the ignorance of our elected officials.

April 17, 2019

Recently, Virginia’s governmental structure has been in a whirlwind as their, Governor Ralph Northam, has admitted to participating in blackface twice in his past. These claims were documented in yearbook photographs at Eastern Virginia Medical School in 1984, where Northam attended. According to the Washington Post, Northam admitted that it was him in the yearbook photograph, stating, “Earlier today, a website published a photograph of me from my 1984 medical school yearbook in a costume that is clearly racist and offensive. I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now.” However, Northam has had a change in response, which is disheartening.

Northam now insists that it was never him in that photograph. Nonetheless, he still admitted wearing blackface for a dance competition. He assumed that the denial of being in the photograph with a KKK costume and wearing blackface to portray the King of Pop would be less offensive. Dr. William Elwood, page designer for the yearbook at Eastern Virginia Medical School in 1984, interviewed by CNN stated that photographs “were chosen by the individual student.” Therefore, undoubtingly, any sane and aware person, would chose his picture for him without consent.

According to Intelligencer Newspaper, many Democratic members have called for Northam to resign, along with two major United States Senators, but he outright refuses. To understand why this situation is severe, understanding what blackface is and it’s offensiveness is important. Blackface carries such a negative connotation in American history. Throughout the nineteenth century to mock and to stereotype black people, white actors would use black paint on their faces in order to be depicted as slaves and free black Americans. Thus, this is the reason why these accusations have caused such an eruptive response from not only the democratic party but other party officials. If it was not enough, Virginia is not only housing a man who enjoys participating in blackface, but Virginia also is the home of Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax who has been accused of sexual assault and Attorney General Mark Herring who also has enjoyed playing dress up in a totally different skin color.

The United States is built off the Constitution that now allows Americans of all genders and skin tones to be protected and this event amongst others has made questions arise whether this document is really… just a piece of paper. Suncoast Community High School is a full of students who are not only ethnically diverse but diverse in opinion, and as a result, this situation has divided this school drastically. According to a poll of 100 students, 65 percent believe that Northam should resign under the current circumstances. Many students question whether it is plausible that Northam’s character is even in question anymore considering how long ago this incident occurred. Unawareness is a problem that not only affects the Northam case, but also school life and society. Suncoast freshman student, **Cleetus McFarland commented, “In my personal opinion, I don’t think there is a way to include better racial barriers in schools. I don’t think that can happen, because in my day and age there is only a selective group of teachers that take certain situations 100 percent to the heart. So I feel like in schools that is something that just won’t happen anytime soon. True integration in that sense will never happen.” However, others believe that this issue is deemed as a choice of ignorance and comfortability. There are also discussions about people who tend to be offended by these derogatory acts and that they should have thicker skin due to how ancient blackface is. Suncoast senior student, Shoobie Leonard stated, “I don’t think this is a discussion about thick skin. It’s about, like I said before, history and the things that the racial group [African Americans] have gone through and the oppression that they have faced. So, it’s not about thick skin, it’s really about why would you do something like that. It’s about the person who is hating. It’s about them morally.” The present issue is this: without respect for others, there will be neither true integration as well as equality.

The first line of business is to start off clean and fresh and this would result in getting rid of Virginia’s Governor and those who work for him, as well as show how important equality is to America.

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