Blackface Is a National Problem and Virginia’s Top Officials Must Step Down

A reckoning about racism and sexual assault has left Virginia’s government in disarray, with the state’s top three elected officials — all Democrats — facing political crises that threaten to upend their careers and the state’s leadership. The controversy that has enveloped Virginia since Governor Ralph Northam admitted last week to wearing blackface took a shocking turn Wednesday, when Attorney General Mark Herring also admitted to wearing blackface at a college party. Just days prior, Herring — who is second in line for Virginia’s governorship — had called for Governor Northam to resign. The first in line, Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, is also embroiled in scandal after a woman who’s accused him of sexual assault came forward Wednesday with details of the encounter. If all three of the Democratic politicians resign, Republican House Speaker Kirk Cox is next in line to become governor. We speak with Khalilah Brown-Dean, an associate professor of political science at Quinnipiac University, who is from Lynchburg, Virginia, and a graduate of the University of Virginia.

Transcript

NERMEEN SHAIKH: We begin today’s show in Virginia, where a reckoning about racism and sexual assault has left the state government in disarray, with Virginia’s top three elected officials — all Democrats — facing political crises that threaten to upend their careers and the state’s leadership. The controversy that’s enveloped Virginia since governor Ralph Northam admitted to wearing blackface last week took a shocking turn Wednesday, when Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring also admitted to wearing blackface at a college party. Just days prior, Herring, who is third in line for Virginia’s governorship, had called for Governor Northam to resign. The second in line, Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, is also embroiled in scandal, after a woman who has accused him of sexual assault came forward Wednesday with details of the encounter.

Read more