Scandals Rock Virginia Leaders

By Charlie Perez, Online Editor

Blackface is racist, and sexual assault is unacceptable. These are societal norms of the 21st century.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) has been embroiled in scandal since his medical yearbook page surfaced, which displays a photo of a man in blackface and a man in a Ku Klux Klan outfit. After originally admitting to being in that photo, Northam has since denied being either of the men. However, Northam has confessed to wearing blackface when portraying Michael Jackson at a party. Northam is white.

Republicans and Democrats alike have called for his resignation. Among others, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) called for him to step down soon after the scandal broke. “It’s completely unacceptable,” Hogan said in The Washington Post. “I’m pretty sure he’s lost the confidence of the people of Virginia.”

The day after the scandal broke, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) released a similar statement. “It is no longer possible for Governor Northam to lead our Commonwealth,” he said. “It is time for him to step down.”

Herring, just four days after condemning Northam for his actions, announced that he had also used blackface while at a college party in 1980. Compounding this scandal, in the week after the yearbook photo surfaced, Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax was accused of sexual assault by two different women. In a span of seven days, these revelations left Virginia’s three most powerful elected officials, all members of the Democratic Party, with damaged credibility and reputations.

As Virginia, the Democratic Party, and the nation at large seek to move on from these revelations, some students feel that the men should continue to serve.

“I feel like the past is in the past,” Jackson Leary (11) said, regarding A.G. Herring and Governor Northam. “Maybe we should stop judging people for their actions when they were younger, and start trying to find the root of the problem.”

Others believe that there is no acceptable path for these men but the path out of office. Lizzie Nguyen (11) worked for Governor Northam’s campaign in the summer of 2017.

“When I first saw the yearbook photo, I was — and still am — disappointed beyond words,” she said. “I personally think he should resign to show that he truly understands the implications of his actions, no matter how long ago it happened.”