Man, what is in the water down there in Virginia? In the last few weeks we’ve had the following stories involving Virginia’s Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General:
- Virginia’s newly-elected Governor, Ralph Northam, physician, officer in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, and Democrat, turns out to have appeared in a photo from his medical yearbook published in 1984 (Eastern Virginia Medical School) that shows him in blackface.
- Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor, the charismatic 39 year old African-American Justin Fairfax, who would become Governor if Northam resigned, was then accused of sexually assaulting a woman at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. Fairfax maintained that the encounter with Vanessa Tyson, an associate professor at Scripps College and fellow at Stanford University, was consensual; she claimed it started consensual but proceeded into decidedly non-consensual territory.
- Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring, who had chastised Governor Northam after the revelation of his blackface photo (and had called on him to resign) then admitted that as a 19-year-old undergraduate he and some friends attend a party dressed like rappers, also in blackface, and performed a song.
And these are the Democrats. You can imagine what the Republicans are like in Virginia.
As irony would have it, if all three of these guys (Northam, Fairfax and Herring) were to resign, the new Governor of Virginia would be the Speaker of the Virginia House, who is a Republican.
Of course, only the Democrats could cannibalize themselves like this. The Republicans would be like Cindy Hyde-Smith, the Senator from Mississippi, who was elected despite joking publicly about her willingness to appear at a lynching “in the front row,” and was all like “go fuck yourselves” when she was implored to resign.
So what is the attraction to blackface in Virginia? Is this like a thing down there? I mean, I realize that racial politics are complicated in Virginia — maybe even more so than the rest of the United States — but still.
Stay tuned to find out if this ends up with the Republicans in control of the Governor’s mansion.
 Northam first admitted that it was him in the photo but then claimed that it was somebody else in the picture, while still admitting that there had been another time where he had put on blackface as part of appearing in costume as Michael Jackson.