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Stare Decisis

(229 posts)
Sat Feb 2, 2019, 07:49 PM Feb 2019

Dear Governor Northam: I Too Once Dressed Up Like Michael Jackson

I did not apply blackface. However I did roll up my jacket and wear a glove. I was a kid. A Preteen. I knew better even then. But can you guess why? In the area I grew up in I was exposed to many cultures. I was taught about the offensive nature of such. The history of the minstrel was a very touchy subject with my circle of friends. It was explained to me there was a painful history associated with the ridicule of African Americans. All of this is not to say I am without regrets. But I do think it says that I did not grow up in a white bubble, with only white understandings of the world around me.

My world changed forever when I saw a picture of Emmett Till. The pain African Americans feel-that this is not their country, that people they trusted still view them as renters, at best, that to this day they must talk to pre-pubescent children about how not to be shot down like a dog by the police, that all is blended and synthesized by the sheer outrage and shame I felt when I saw the picture of that young man. And yet I will never understand. I will examine their shoes, cry over them, try to make their walk more comfortable and equal but I will never, ever truly walk in them.

For you Ralph Northam to have behaved in this manner, as an adult, in an era where an esteemed African American male was running for President is not just the height of ignorance, it is the clearest example of a man who did nothing to learn beyond his own culture. There is no excuse for what you did. And that's ok. I don't need an excuse. Just a heartfelt commitment to being a better man. But whether you are in this particular photo, or another, your tone deaf defense of this behavior, not to mention a wildly implausible backtrack is an embarrassment to our party. I am not sure why you think a hypothetical instance of MJ emulation is somehow better-oh wait, yes I do. Because the picture in question shows an embrace of a KKK costumed person. So "Yes I dressed up like Michael Jackson, my bad. but this KKK guy is not my friend." How dare you trivialize racism. No sir Governor, we as Americans do not get to place our racism on a powerpoint graph labelled "continuum." Not anymore. Because to do so is to never truly repent, never truly understand, never truly evolve. A person careening through life crowing "I'm not THAT bad is THAT bad.

Facepalm. Ugh. There is no reason for this other than the desperate preservation of your own career. You do the party no good. You do the AA community no good. The trust is gone. It won't return. But what I will go back to is my earlier statement that a man who behaves like that likely grew up in a white bubble demonstrating well into his 20's neither a sensibility towards racial understanding nor even the slightest inclination towards learning.

So today the once young person now older man stood before us today and said that resigning was the easy way out. That you want to engage in discussion and racial healing and the best way to do that is to stay in office. This tells me only one thing-you still live in that bubble. A servant would recognize that in wait is a wildly talented and highly educated gentleman waiting to take the reins and start a real process of moving forward. But no-Northam decides that he knows best. That just a little more whitesplainin' will do the trick. We as a party will accomplish nothing good by you staying in office.

But Mr. Northam you will accomplish nothing for yourself by staying in either. You will go down in history as a man completely tone deaf, unaware of just how deeply ensconced in his own privilege he is, and as someone who chose as a course of healing-not to step aside to allow for a qualified AA man to ascend and restore the state party's credibility but rather selfishly attempt to convince us how important he is.

And therein lies the point-none of us in public service are more important than the public being served. It took me time to grow as a person and learn. It still does. I look at old photos sometimes with disgust-perhaps for the company I was keeping or simply a shirt I was wearing. I trashed much of my 80's record collection because I came to realize too many of the songs were based on misogyny. But I did learn. More to the point I wanted to.

Mr. Northam you clearly showed today you are not truly interested in learning. A man interested in self-improvement would acknowledge his mistakes, accept the truth of trust being broken and step aside. He would engage in meaningful private conversation we never hear about, he might read The Invisible Man, then re-read it, then step outside of himself to see how the world truly treats people of color.

He would put others first. You don't just stop being racist. That is a process that centers around education, and taking to heart what others suffer through. I don't know you personally so I will grant the possibility you are not a racist. But in my experience if a man had stopped being a racist, I believe he would have been transparent. He would have accepted responsibility, would have made legitimate efforts to self-improve, and most importantly he would have likely started this process at 29, not 59. I wish you well. I truly do. Perhaps if our paths cross we can become friends. But there is a hard reality in the midst of all this-

Mr. Northam you should resign for the good of all. But not solely because you admitted to applying blackface. Not because you might have lived in a bubble of Mayberry ignorance. Not even because it appears you embraced a person in a KKK robe. You should resign because the worst of all lies are those told to yourself. A man spoke today who after 35 years seemed to be still lying to himself.

So what possible faith should we maintain in your ability to anytime soon, tell the truth to US?

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