Blackface dehumanizes African-Americans
3/1/2019, 6 a.m.
Gov. Ralph S. Northam’s past actions are inexcusable and his current behavior is awful. Explicit, intentional racism is condemned in much of America, but we’re still failing to eliminate implicit racism caused by ignorance, status quo and apathy.
Regardless of Gov. Northam’s intentions, he has failed to empathize with African-Americans. He has failed to educate himself on how blackface has historically undermined accurate representation of the black experience. He has failed to evaluate how America’s and Europe’s historical subjugation of people of color has pervaded the values of every nation ever touched by imperialism, leaving the persistent message that light skin is inherently of more value than dark skin, a message that can only be eliminated through vigilant education, compassion and empathy.
Blackface does and always has perpetuated the dehumanization of African-American people, and it is not the place of white people to decide where and when blackface is permissible.
This situation is incredibly unfortunate, but I do hope it inspires Gov. Northam, regardless of his future political career, to evaluate the trivialization of the black identity for entertainment and to develop greater empathy for people of color.