The Political Curse of Ralph Northam and Entitled White Men

The Political Curse of Ralph Northam and Entitled White Men

Another day, another trending hashtag of a white male public figure with a resurfaced past as shitty as his combover. In the controversy surrounding Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, we are conveniently reminded that white men in the Democratic Party are not immune to the privileges of casual racism. It’s been a whole day since an old racist photo surfaced from Northam’s yearbook page, and the fact that he still hasn’t resigned says everything we need to know about the bipartisan nature of white male privilege.

The yearbook photo depicts a man in blackface standing next to a man in a Ku Klux Klan uniform, one of whom is likely him, by his own initial admission to the photo, as well as to wearing blackface for a Michael Jackson costume. He’s even tried backtracking about being in the photo, but former classmates suggested that they submitted their own photos for their yearbook pages. Northam has still refused to step down, saying that “if he felt he wasn’t able to function effectively, he would revisit the issue and make decisions.”

Northam must resign for no other reason than to establish an irreversible precedent for both parties that no level of racist ideology will be tolerated by our elected officials, especially when its perpetrator exhibits more concern for it to remain hidden than be atoned. tweet

The audacity of his delusion, that he gets to be the judge of whether he can “function effectively” as governor, emphasizes two realities: first, the sheer erasure of the voices of the people that his actions impact, and, second, his entitlement to the political position granted to him by the people, as if it’s his own to dictate. It’s not enough that the whole Virginia Legislative Black Caucus declared that their “confidence in [Northam’s] ability to govern … is eviscerated.”

With every similar cycle, my favorite part has to be bracing myself for how long the transgressor will defy resigning in the hopes that it’ll all blow over. If I was a white man, I would hold out, too, because history has taught us that it works! Even if a reputation is shot, sometimes the position survives — and that’s all that really matters, anyway. It’s never been about us: We’ve all known for a long time that they never really loved us.

White men can’t keep getting away with pulling the “I was young and stupid” card when innocent black boys are still being shot in the street and depicted as threats to society, and young women are getting painted as drunk sluts asking to be violated. tweet

Northam must resign for no other reason than to establish an irreversible precedent for both parties that no level of racist ideology will be tolerated by our elected officials, especially when its perpetrator exhibits more concern for it to remain hidden than be atoned. White men can’t keep getting away with pulling the “I was young and stupid” card when innocent black boys are still being shot in the street and depicted as threats to society, and young women are getting painted as drunk sluts asking to be violated.

Meanwhile, white men on the internet — conservatives and liberals alike — trip over themselves to weaponize a video of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doing a viral dance challenge in college.

It’s become cool to be a progressive politician, but it’s clear that no political party will save us. It really will come down to the new guard to raise the bar on race for both Democrats and Republicans alike, and hold them to it. Otherwise, they need to make room for new representatives who will, because if this is not where we draw the line, then where will it end?

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The Political Curse of Ralph Northam and Entitled White Men
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