The Crime of Blackface
Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s political career is probably over because of one old picture that may show him in blackface. The 35-year-old photo’s appearance prompted Democratic leaders to call for Mr. Northam’s resignation and Republicans to claim it was a sign of Democratic racism. After first admitting it might be him in the photo, Gov. Northam is now saying it isn’t—but he admits he did appear in blackface at a Michael Jackson impersonation contest.
Blackface is now a life-ruining event. It may even be a cause for impeachment if Gov. Northam refuses to resign. Virginia law states that the legislature can impeach the governor if he is found to offend “against the Commonwealth by malfeasance in office, corruption, neglect of duty, or other high crime or misdemeanor.” A photo—unless it’s evidence of a crime—isn’t any of those things, but lawmakers could claim that it is. In our age, it seems anything is possible.
Many whites have blacked up for Halloween parties and other events, but all it takes is for one photo to appear for their lives to fall apart. Florida Secretary of State Mike Ertel, a Republican, resigned in late January after a 13-year-old photo of him in blackface surfaced.
As part of the Covington Catholic controversy, reporters tried to accuse the school of promoting blackface for basketball games. They trotted out a 2011 photo showing students with black paint on their faces. This was part of “Blackout,” a common practice at high schools and colleges where fans wear all black for a particular game. Many times, fans put on black face paint as part of the excitement, and in the Covington photos there were boys who were black from the waist up.
Several news outlets mocked this explanation. The Grio, for instance, argued the blackouts were proof of a racist culture and that students painted their faces to intimidate non-white players on opposing teams. Leftists grasped at anything to nurture their outrage.
Megyn Kelly was fired from NBC last October for wondering what was so racist about using blackface for Halloween. If you want to dress up as Michael Jackson or Michael Jordan, shouldn’t it be part of the costume? No one bothered to answer this entirely reasonable question.
College students have had their lives ruined over blackface. Just last month, two University of Oklahoma students dropped out because they appeared in a Snapchat video that included a girl in blackface. This was national news, and the university president said the students were “not welcome” on campus.
In 2018, the University of Michigan launched an investigation into a student who posted a Snapchat picture of herself in blackface with the text “#BlackLivesMatter.” Fanatics complained that the investigation was too slow, and urged the university to kick her out immediately. Several schools have expelled or suspended students. Abilene Christian University expelled two students pictured in blackface, saying it was “harassment” and violated Christian principles.
Several fraternities have been suspended or investigated because they threw ethnic theme parties, such as “gangster” parties where students dress in ghetto clothing and a few wear blackface. In 2014, Clemson suspended its Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter over the fraternity’s “Cripmas” party, to which students wore “thug” attire.
Blackface is ultimately harmless and takes place at private events, but it is now supposed to be as bad as—or worse than—using the dreaded N-word. Even “conservatives” say so. During the Megyn Kelly flap, Ben Shapiro argued that blackface is “horrific” and “evil.” Killing someone would be horrific and evil, but blackface? Dinesh D’Souza, used the Northam fracas to tweet his idiotic line that Democrats are the real racists.
Republicans rejoice at the anguish of an opponent, unaware of the consequences. No one should be fired for blackface. It strengthens the unwritten rule that whites must never joke about, criticize, or—even in admiration—imitate blacks. More and more behavior becomes off limits to whites. Non-whites, of course, can mock whites all they want and even openly hate them. That’s no bar to prestigious jobs, such as a spot on the New York Times’ editorial board.
Only whites must always be racially sensitive. As anti-white hostility intensifies, the sensitivity noose will only draw tighter.