From [WashingtonPost] Virginians are deadlocked over whether Gov. Ralph Northam (D) should step down after the emergence of a photo on his 1984 medical school yearbook page depicting people in blackface and Ku Klux Klan garb, with African Americans saying by a wide margin that he should remain in office despite the offensive image, according to a Washington Post-Schar School poll.
The poll, conducted Wednesday through Friday, finds residents split over Northam’s fate, with 47 percent wanting him to step down and 47 percent saying he should stay on. Northam counts higher support among black residents — who say he should remain in office by a margin of 58 percent to 37 percent — than among whites, who are more evenly divided.
Most remain undecided about a woman’s tabloid complaint that Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) sexually assaulted her in 2004, with 65 percent saying they didn’t know enough to judge Fairfax’s denial of the accusation. [MORE] Although the statute of limitations has not expired, no criminal or civil case has been filed against Fairfax.
On February 1, 2019, images from Northam's medical school yearbook were published on the far-right conspiracy theorist website Big League Politics. The photos showed an image of an unidentified person in blackface and an unidentified person in a Ku Klux Klan hood on Northam's page in the yearbook. A spokesman for Eastern Virginia Medical School confirmed that the image appeared in its 1984 yearbook. Shortly after the news broke, Northam apologized for appearing in the photo and issued a statement saying,
“Earlier today, a website published a photograph of me from my 1984 medical school yearbook in a costume that is clearly racist and offensive. I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now. This behavior is not in keeping with who I am today and the values I have fought for throughout my career in the military, in medicine, and in public service. But I want to be clear, I understand how this decision shakes Virginians’ faith in that commitment. I recognize that it will take time and serious effort to heal the damage this conduct has caused. I am ready to do that important work. The first step is to offer my sincerest apology and to state my absolute commitment to living up to the expectations Virginians set for me when they elected me to be their Governor.”
WHY LIE ABOUT IT? Prior to issuing his apology, Northam claimed that he had privately reacted in confusion to the photo and told several people that he did not believe that he was either of the men depicted in the photo. Early that evening, he claimed that he had also told Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax that although he had no recollection of the photo, he considered it a possibility that he was one of the two men depicted. According to The Washington Post, "two people familiar with the events of that evening" said that Northam "decided to take the blame" for the photo due to the pressure on him to issue a statement, even though at the time, Northam was still confused about the photo's origins. [MORE] After extreme backlash the racist suspect then said he does not believe he is either person in the racist photo that appeared in his 1984 yearbook but that he did once darken his face to resemble Michael Jackson during a dance contest in 1984. [MORE]
During the 30 years that followed Northam never took action to correct the publication that published a photo of a klansman and a white man in Blackface posing on his medical school profile page. As such, through subsequent inaction he ratified the photo and its symbolic validation of the system of racism white supremacy and his participation and/or support for it.