Just When We Thought It Couldn’t Get Worse, It Did by Carol P. Christ

Like many of you I have been following discussions of the revelation that Virginia Governor Ralph Northam dressed in blackface or as a member of the Ku Klux Klan when he was a medical student. It was reported that Northam was earlier known as “coonman,” an epithet which suggests that he had blackened his face more than once. His later admission that he put only a little bit of black shoe polish on his face because it is hard to get off, when he dressed up as Michael Jackson, seems to confirm that blackface was something he had tried before. There was also the fact that students had been asked by the yearbook committee to submit photographs for their pages: Northam did not say if he submitted the photographs on his page.

Some commented that Northam’s was not a (possibly forgivable) youthful offense, but one committed by a twenty-six year-old adult. Others said that Northam’s failure to take full responsibility for his apparently repeated behavior and the hurt and harm his actions and actions like them had caused was the more serious offense. Perhaps he could still have governed if he had apologized fully, told the story of how he came to understand race relations on a deeper level, and immediately offered to meet with black leaders and restorative justice experts to discuss what he could to earn back the trust of the people who elected him.

Everyone seemed relieved that Northam would be replaced by a young progressive black man. It seemed like a happy ending to a very sad story.

And then the other shoe dropped. Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax was accused of forcible sexual assault by a black woman named Dr. Vanessa Tyson who had absolutely nothing to gain by telling her story. Continue reading “Just When We Thought It Couldn’t Get Worse, It Did by Carol P. Christ”

Past Transgressions by Esther Nelson

Governor Ralph Northam, a Democrat in the state of Virginia, has many people calling for his resignation after a picture from a 1984 medical school yearbook surfaced showing what some people assert to be Northam wearing blackface or a KKK costume.  (Northam insists he is neither one of the people in the photograph and he, as I write this, vows to fulfill his term in office.) This is a link to the recent firestorm along with other people in the public eye who have been censored due to their racial insensitivity. 

Recently I posted an essay on this blog (FAR) titled, “All Are Welcome—Even Tom.”  One of the broad questions I raise in the piece dealing with sexual assault surrounds our shared human dignity.  “If we are all one (as many people assert), do we not hurt and diminish our own selves when we seek revenge or become embittered instead of practicing compassion towards both parties—the one who has inflicted an injury as well as the one who has been injured? [Here is the link]. Continue reading “Past Transgressions by Esther Nelson”

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