Ralph Northam, blackface and medical apartheid: An American nightmare


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The casual, brutal racism in Northam’s medical school yearbook is not random. It reflects a long and ugly history.

By Chauncey Devega, Salon.com

Gov. Ralph Northam’s page in his 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s predicament has been upstaged over the last few days by that state’s widening scandal, as Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax — who would replace Northam if the latter resigns — now faces multiple accusations of sexual assault. Nonetheless, Northam needs to go. His confusing back-and-forth story about whether or not he engaged in blackface race minstrelsy while in medical school is disqualifying in itself, whether or not Northam is one of the men in the now-infamous photo on his 1984 yearbook page.

A governor’s term is relatively short. Those are but a few years as compared to the centuries of troubled and horrible history that Northam’s 1984 yearbook photo channels and legitimates.

There are monsters in Ralph Northam’s yearbook. These are the other white men, those future doctors and healers, who wore blackface or Ku Klux Klan robes (which are intended to symbolize the ghosts of Confederate soldiers) as they laughed and joyfully postured. Racial terrorism and the suffering of black people seemed funny to them.

This is all another reminder that how to be black in America is to be stuck in a waking nightmare. It reflects a one-way abusive relationship, across the color line, that has existed for centuries.

There are is a whole vocabulary to describe this state of affairs.

Negrophobia, white supremacy, white racial paranoia, spectacular violence, colorblind racism, white privilege, white racial logic, the white racial frame, “adultification,” “stereotype threat,” symbolic racism, old-fashioned racism and reverse racism.

Black people also have an internal dialogue and script they use to navigate this nightmare world. “Hands up, don’t shoot.” “Never forget ‘The Talk.'” “Don’t walk too fast, don’t walk too slow.” “Smile lest you be perceived as an angry black man or an angry black woman.” “Be nice but not too nice lest you be perceived as ‘condescending’ or ‘disrespectful.'””Officer, I am unarmed. I am innocent. Please don’t hurt or kill me.” “Officer, I am complying with your commands. Please don’t shoot me while I take my ID from my wallet.”

Black people are often forced to wonder: If they are killed by police officers, or by a George Zimmerman-style vigilante, how will the news media distort their lives?…

Read full article here

Read more about United States’ Medical Apartheid  here and  here

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