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Democracy NowFeb 07, 2019
Political Scientist: Blackface Is a National Problem & 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. Governor Northam has refused to step down since a racist photo from his 1984 medical school yearbook page emerged featuring a man wearing blackface posing next to a man wearing a Ku Klux Klan outfit. 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. Her forthcoming book is titled "Identity Politics in the United States."
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