Now that everyone’s mad at him, Ralph Northam promises—after just 59 years of living in America—he’ll finally get around to figuring out exactly why blackface is wrong.
In his first sit-down interview since a photo from Northam’s yearbook page of two men, one in blackface and the other in a KKK hood, circulated and Northam admitted to donning blackface for a Michael Jackson dance contest, he told The Washington Post that he’s developed a newfound interest in learning about the problems his black constituents face because of systemic inequality:
“It’s obvious from what happened this week that we still have a lot of work to do. There are still some very deep wounds in Virginia, and especially in the area of equity,” he said. “There are ongoing inequities to access to things like education, health care, mortgages, capital, entrepreneurship. And so this has been a real, I think , an awakening for Virginia. It has really raised the level of awareness for racial issues in Virginia. And so we’re ready to learn from our mistakes.”
The interview goes on to say he’s read “chapters” of Alex Haley’s Roots and “The Case for Reparations” by Ta-Nehisi’Coates. Guess it was easy to miss Roots the first time around when it spent 46 weeks on the bestseller list and was one of the highest-rated television events of all time, with over half of American households watching. But okay.
Though he still denies that either of the men in the yearbook photo are him, saying he “overreacted” when he initially took the blame:
“I overreacted,” he said, by putting out a statement taking blame for the picture. “If I had it to do over I would step back and take a deep breath.” He said that an “independent investigation” being conducted by Eastern Virginia Medical School is aimed at clearing up the facts around it.
Northam’s first order of business after the scandal, according to the Post, is to implement sensitivity training throughout Virginia, in Cabinet but also at colleges and in public schools. He also brought up issues like infant and maternal mortality, a problem that disproportionately affects the black community, increasing access to affordable housing, promoting black entrepreneurship, and maybe, just maybe, doing something about those fucking statues. We’ll see.
As far as the two women who have accused Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault, Northam danced that infuriating logical two-step wherein the person who doesn’t want to talk about it praises survivors for their courage and then says the story might be made up:
“It must take tremendous courage for women to step forward and talk about being the victim of sexual assault,” Northam said. “These allegations are horrific, they need to be taken very seriously. Lt. Gov. Fairfax has suggested and called for an investigation, I strongly support that.”
If you’d like to catch the “reconciliation tour” there’s going to be “conversations about race and healing.” Whose healing?