Blackface Is the Tip of the Iceberg The structural problems we need to solve lie at the roots of Ame
Over the last month, we’ve learned just how much racism is too much to sustain a career in American politics.
It took almost 16 years for House Republicans to reprimand Steve King of Iowa for his frequent expressions of explicit racism, stripping him of his committee assignments. The catalyst? An interview with The New York Times in which he expressed sympathy with racist ideas. “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King said.
Compare that slow-moving response with the quick dismissal of Michael Ertel, the Republican secretary of state in Florida, who resigned the same day that photos of him in blackface were revealed to the public. Taken at a Halloween party in 2005, they show Ertel with a painted face and a costume that make clear he was mocking survivors of Hurricane Katrina.
The reaction after the discovery of a racist image on the medical school yearbook page of Ralph Northam, the governor of Virginia, has been almost as swift. As the world now knows, the photo, taken at a party in 1984, shows one person in blackface and another dressed as a member of the Ku Klux Klan, both holding beers and gazing at the camera. Northam initially said he was in the photo, although he couldn’t say which figure he was. He later backtracked, claiming he wasn’t in it and vowing to finish his term.