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Jim Crow Jumps into the Game

Jim Crow Jumps into the Game

Robert C. Koehler

History in blackface slaps the present moment awake.

What? The governor put that picture on his yearbook page? In 1984? The wave of outrage, the demand for his resignation — from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s own party, the Democrats — can’t be dismissed with a shrug and an apology. His career may be over, thanks not simply to an act of youthful stupidity but to the context that made it possible: good old American racism.

The context that made it possible: good old American racism.

Northam’s undoing is his own fault. He first claimed he was in the picture, then walked that back, saying he wasn’t when he realized the people in the photo couldn’t be identified, at no time admitting fault or apologizing. Had he done so, this incident wouldn’t have become the big deal that it has.

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Look out Florida! Virginia is threatening your status as “Most Ridiculous State” in the Union!

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And this guy went to medical school? Imagine you’re his patient, being seen on Dr. Northam’s morning rounds:

“Well, Mr. Wilson, I don’t know how much you remember of our post-op discussion yesterday. You were a little out of it, so I wanted to again assure you that we successfully removed your sick kidney, and your remaining kidney is handling your metabolic load just fine.”

“So,” you say, “That’s good news, right? Best outcome given the circumstances.”

“Hmm,” says Dr. Northam. “There is one thing. I looked again this morning at the histology and, well… It wasn’t your kidney.”


“Yeah, well, I know it wasn’t your kidney because I also had a gall bladder yesterday, and it turns out that, in that case, I did take out a kidney. That’s how I know I didn’t take out your kidney. Thank you for letting me clear that up.”

Ever notice how when there’s an absolutely crazy story, the byline is ALWAYS FL?

Rubbish. Northam’s got no one to blame but himself. I grew up in the 70s and I don’t know anyone of that age who would look at donning blackface or posing in a Klan robe as being “funny” or “cute” or anything other than being a racist jackass, even in high school, let along medical school.

He’s an insensitive, racist ass and should go.

I agree and that picture was taken in 1984. Plus initially, he did not even own up to it .