Since the beginning of #45’s term, I have ended too many days literally exhausted from hearing about the most recent lack of leadership, daily fiasco, cover-ups and deflection, that I have decided to settle my spirit by letting it all go, and simply saying to myself and others, “I just can’t.” Meaning, “I am at a loss for words,” or in most cases, no amount of words can adequately express my response to these situations.
Here we are in February 2019, the beginning of Black History Month and I am once again faced with another “I just can’t” moment, but this time in my own backyard. On the front page of the newspaper, and across all of my feeds on social media, are alleged pictures of Ralph Northam, Governor of the state of Virginia, in blackface standing next to someone in a KKK hood and robe. This is in the state that I have lived in for the past 14 years, the state where I am raising my daughter to be a fierce leader for social justice, and here is the man that I voted for in the past election in blackface. I just can’t!
I am by no means disillusioned about the racist history or politics in the state that I live in. Unfortunately, I am not even surprised by the fact that the pictures have surfaced or the fact that the Governor was in a picture in blackface standing next to someone in KKK garb. My “I just can’t moment” comes more into the play in the stories that are coming from the Governor’s camp and even his own mouth after the fact. In a 24- hour period, after the pictures are released, he initially apologized. Then, he says “It wasn’t me or I don’t know if that was me,” in that picture. Then there was “but I did dress up as Michael Jackson one time and used shoe polish on my face.” Oh and finally “do you know how hard it is to get shoe polish off your face.” Really?! I just can’t!
The Governor may have done good things throughout his political career. He may have even matured in this thinking since medical school. However, all of his actions thus far, including his refusal to even consider resigning, point to the fact that he is clueless about the damage he has done, and will continue to do should he remain in office. The fact that he seemingly downplays the seriousness of his actions is another “ I just can’t moment.” At this point, his ability to govern is questionable.
I have had many conversations with friends and colleagues in Virginia over the past few days about this issue. Some point to all the good the Governor has done throughout this career and suggest that this one issue should not end his political career. Others accept his apology and suggest that we “just move on because he is a changed man now.” Most, however, including folk in his own party, are calling for his resignation. I am in the latter camp. His behind just needs to resign.