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Herring and blackface

3/8/2019, noon
We listened to Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s radio interview Monday on the Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU in Washington.

We note the difference in age — and likely maturity levels — between Mr. Herring and Gov. Northam when their blackface episodes took place. While Mr. Herring was a young college student, Gov. Northam was out of college, had finished medical school and had started his residency. We would expect more from someone of the governor’s experience, knowledge and understanding at age 24.

We also note that Mr. Herring has done so much more for African-Americans and underrepresented communities in Virginia during his last five years as attorney general than Gov. Northam has done in his four years as lieutenant governor and first year as governor, Medicaid expansion not withstanding.

If  Mr. Herring is sincere about committing to action to bring about change, then we need to see it rather than mere lip service.

We have urged the African-American community to focus on shaping what reconciliation looks like and to articulate to Mr. Herring, Gov. Northam and other state elected officials the specific changes that need to be made to laws and policy to secure a more equitable future for African-Americans and people of color. 

We find it despicable that the Republican Party of Virginia is offering a $1,000 reward to the first person who can produce a verifiable photo of Mr. Herring in blackface or for a verifiable contact with one of his college fraternity brothers that ultimately leads to a photo of Mr. Herring in blackface.

We find it grossly inappropriate and disgusting for the GOP to offer such a bounty, like a reward for an outlaw or for body parts of a lynching victim. Their request may come back to haunt them. Certainly, with the GOP’s history of racist members of its own, it would be no wonder if photos of their stalwarts in blackface, KKK robes, Nazi or Confederate get-ups surface for free — without charge or a $1,000 bounty.

The GOP should beware.