Sam Taishoff ’22
When it comes to human beings, it is important to look not only at the person they were, but also the person they are now. For Ralph Northam, Governor of Virginia, the person he was and the person he is today are rather inseparable and both are deeply racist. At this point many people are familiar with the picture of him in either blackface or a Ku Klux Klan uniform that appeared on his senior page, but what less people are familiar with are the other parts of his racist background and some programs that he is putting in place that would directly lead to the oppression of minorities. At this point, politicians from both sides of the political divide are calling for his resignation and he is doing everything he can to cling to his political career.
Ralph Northam’s campaign was built heavily on the extremely popular movement among leftists of “Orange-Man Bad,” in other words, the anti-Trump movement. In addition, he also ran with a strong focus on anti-racism and attempted to depict his Republican opponent as a Confederate flag waving redneck. The most famous of his campaign videos is “The American Nightmare” which depicts a white man driving a truck with a Confederate flag and an Ed Gillespie campaign bumper sticker chasing down a group of minority children. The ad ends with the narrator asking “Is this what Donald Trump and Ed Gillespie mean by the ‘American Dream?” For a campaign built upon anti-racism, it becomes quite ironic when the candidate ends up being such a racist man. In addition, during his campaign, he approved the removal of all mention of his African-American running mate, Justin Fairfax, on campaign literature distributed in Northern Virginia. However, something that is quite interesting, is that the surfacing of these racist facts began only when he began to push for the same abortion policies of New York and Rhode Island. If someone had found these photos and done the research into him prior, or during the campaign, there would’ve been no way he was elected.
However, the fact of the matter remains, he was elected and now there are photos and information available painting him as a racist. In his yearbook from Eastern Virginia Medical School, on his own senior page, there is a picture of him and a buddy at a costume party. It is unclear whether he is the one in the blackface or in the KKK uniform, but my money is on the blackface. Ralph Northam grew up and went to a predominately black high school. As a result, it would not shock me if he did imitations of his high school classmates to his friends in college and as part of it, wore blackface. Now, the most horrible part of this to me, is that his actions in college were done with the knowledge of it being racist. He claims he has no clue how he got the nickname “Coonman” in college, but there is little possibility that one could have come from a predominantly black high school and be unable to recognize the racist connotations.
While the past may not be enough to condemn this man as a racist bigot, it appears as if his racism has permeated into his policy. The most famous action he made that caused the NAACP to ask for his resignation was a decision to allow Dominion Power to build a potentially dangerous new compressor in a neighborhood where 83% of the residents are black. Union Hill is a Virginia town which was founded by freedmen following emancipation and now their air will be poisoned due to Northam’s decision to remove members of the Air Pollution Control board when they voted to oppose the compressor.
And finally, as if his dressing up in racist attire in the past and his decisions to harm black communities were not enough, Ralph Northam continues to do things like that today. This past October, he inappropriately dressed up as a slave holding governor for Halloween. The sad truth is that he is a racist man who will not stop until he is removed from office. As a native Virginian, I am quite disappointed in my state and I hope things can be rectified sometime soon.