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Congressional Black Caucus slams Virginia governor over ‘blackface’


Rep Karen Bass (CA-37), chairperson of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and Rep. A. Donald McEachin (VA-04), CBC Whip,  spoke on NBC’s “Meet the Press” last weekend following their call for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to resign following yearbook photos that have surfaced showing him in “blackface.”

Bass said: “[Northam is] forcing the wrong conversation [by not resigning]. What he should do is resign and then if he has any integrity at all, he should participate in that conversation. He was completely disingenuous when he talked about how he didn’t understand this in 1984 and this is commonplace. He’s basically saying he participated in it, and especially describing the time he did the Michael Jackson impression and that he was willing to moonwalk until his wife stopped him, which shows he still does not understand the seriousness of his actions.

“I think [Northam staying] is a perfect example of extending the pain. If he was sincere at all, he would recognize the pain that he has caused. The way he described 1984, I mean, that is just so not true. 1984 was a time of great hope. We were hopeful that we would have the first Black president, that was in the middle of Jessie Jackson’s campaign and in the middle of the anti-apartheid movement. So he’s basically shown he’s not honest. He needs to resign and if there was any way he could regain his integrity, he should resign and then begin the conversation.”

McEachin added: “I can tell you that to the best of my knowledge, it was not commonplace in 1984. But let’s assume, without conceding, that it was commonplace. Slavery was commonplace, that doesn’t make it right. Massive resistance was commonplace, that doesn’t make it right. Jim Crow was commonplace, that doesn’t make it right. So, if blackface was commonplace was 1984 – that doesn’t make it right. Ralph should have known better.

“The question now [for Northam] is can you lead? Can you help us heal? Given the actions that he’s demonstrated over the past 48 hours, the answer is clearly no.

“I want America to remember that this is the 400th anniversary of Africans coming to the shores of Jamestown in chains…that commemoration combined with a governor that’s been talking about blackface and misleading us about blackface is not the look that I think Virginia wants to portray to the nation.”