Why Won’t Blackface Go Away? It’s Part of America’s Troubled Cultural LegacyRoundup
tags: racism, political history, Ku Klux Klan, Blackface, Ralph Northam
Wil Haygood, a visiting professor at Miami University (Ohio), has written biographies of Sammy Davis, Jr., Thurgood Marshall and Sugar Ray Robinson. His latest book is “Tigerland: 1968-1969.”
He keeps showing up, like some slightly bemused and maniacal houseguest, usually intending to get a laugh but instead taking America back into a wicked time warp. The man in blackface stands there, frozen. The photo of him starts to ricochet around our race-haunted land. The outcry begins anew.
We find ourselves in this situation again after a photo was circulatedlast week showing a man in blackface standing next to a man in a Ku Klux Klan robe on the medical school yearbook page of Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia. At first, Mr. Northam admitted to being in the photo (without disclosing which of the two men he was), but then he backtracked and denied it. He did, though, admit to a different flirtation with blackface, when he dressed as Michael Jackson. On Wednesday, the state’s attorney general, Mark Herring, also a Democrat, acknowledged that he himself had donned blackface while in college. All this as Virginia, like the rest of the country, celebrates Black History Month.
Blackface in America just won’t go away — consistently showing up at stag parties, on frat row, in college musicals and elsewhere.