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Virginia is undergoing a massive unearthing of scandals with their major politicians. Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, Governor Ralph Northam, and Attorney General Mark Herring all find themselves defending themselves and calls for their resignation. A 1968 yearbook of Virginia’s Military Institute, which Norment was the managing editor of, contained racial slurs, blackface, and Confederate flags. In another yearbook, this time a medical school yearbook of Ralph Northam, he was accused of appearing in blackface or in KKK garb. Herring, amidst everyone else’s blackface revelations, disclosed that he also had worn blackface in decades earlier. As is the case with Kareem Hunt, these actions are inexcusable. However, shouldn’t there be a path to redemption for people who run afoul of social standards?
It’s 2019 and most of us can agree that blackface is completely in the wrong. Granted there are still some that are inexplicably confused by it and thus turned it into a “complicated” subject. For example, this last October NBC canceled Megyn Kelly Today because of her remarks about blackface.
Megyn Kelly Spoke Her Truth
Kelly stated, ”Back when I was a kid that was OK, as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character.”
“There was a controversy on The Real Housewives of New York with Luann, and she dressed as Diana Ross, and she made her skin look darker than it really is and people said that that was racist,”Kelly said. “And I don’t know, I felt like who doesn’t love Diana Ross? She wants to look like Diana Ross for one day. I don’t know how, like, that got racist on Halloween.”
“The iconic Diana Ross came up as an example. To me, I thought, why would it be controversial for someone dressing up as Diana Ross to make herself look like this amazing woman as a way of honoring and respecting her?”
Kelly was completely wrong in her idea that blackface can be used to honor someone. It might seem like a great idea and you might truly adore the person you are dressing up as, but you are ignoring the brutal past of blackface. Blackface has a harsh history of white actors portraying racist caricatures of black culture. They insulted, belittled and disparaged black culture while at the same time perpetuating stereotypes. If there wasn’t a history of blackface used in this way, perhaps Kelly would be right. However, because of its past, we can’t accept that. This is something most of us know now. We understand the apauling history and why it is completely unacceptable in today’s culture. But Megyn Kelly wasn’t completely wrong in her understanding of blackface.
The Past vs The Present
She was right about America’s past. Things were different. Despite it being disgusting, it was socially acceptable to dress in blackface. Blackface, sexual harassment and many other offenses didn’t disturb people’s moral fabric or have the consequences that they do today. Society wasn’t as educated, aware, and didn’t care about the victims and the reasons why each
With that being said, let’s review our Virginia politicians, where they went right, where they went wrong, and how politicians and citizens should move forward with redemption at the forefront of their focus.
If you recall, there are three Virginia politicians that have been linked to blackface and they each came out in different ways. Norment, after his 1968 yearbook came out, condemned blackface and also protecting his own actions by stating that he was “one of seven working on a 359-page yearbook.” Northam initially admitted to appearing in the image, though he did not say whether he was the one dressed in blackface or as a member of the KKK. Yet, later he retracted that admission, even though the photo appeared on a yearbook page dedicated to him. However, he did still admit that he appeared in blackface as Michael Jackson in a 1984 party. Herring, unlike the others, came out before anyone had accused him. He claimed to have worn blackface decades earlier.
Time Heals Voter’s Wounds
The most peculiar thing in all of this is that there is still large support for these politicians. A recent Washington Post-Schar School poll found that 60-percent of Virginians said that Herring should stay in office and 58-percent of African American Virginians said that Northam should stay in office. Even though Northam retracted his admission, he still had support by many. The reason why is because of people like Louise Butler, a 76-year-old woman with a deep history of Virginia, including segregation. She said that whatever views Northam held in 1984, she was confident that he was now committed to advancing racial equity. “He’s been a good governor, and he’s been good, as far as I know, to black people,” Butler said. The poll also showed that more Whites believed Northam should resign from office.
This support for political leaders in turmoil is similar to the careers of Richie Incognito and Tyreek Hill, discussed in Part 1 about
In contrast to the current political cycle of dodge and spin, America should adopt a new age of moving forward. Imagine this. A photo comes out of a politician in blackface. Instead of denying that it was him, or retracting his admission, he (or she) comes out and takes full responsibility, admitting the racism and wrongdoing. He then explains the roots of his actions, why he did it, society around him. Context is given. It helps people understand his background. But not stopping then, he explains how and why he has grown and changed since then. He enlightens the public on the policies he’s supported to eliminate racial bias. Last, he commits to serve the community, support bills that will lift up communities of color and push America forward into greater equality. This is the way of Tyreek Hill and should be every politicians attitude and first choice.
Redemption and Rehabilitation
If we want politicians to start doing this, we need to set up an America that is focused on reform and rehab. We can start with our criminal system. America currently represents 4.4-percent of the world’s population, but houses around 22-percent of the world’ prisoners. We need reform. Rehabilitation should not be something that is just awarded to those we like. It should be a right that each of us are granted. And are many ideas on how to do this: give district attorneys, judges, and parole officers more discretion, don’t lock up mentally ill or addicts, provide more educational options in prison, use house-arrest for non-violent offenders, provide tax credits to employers who hire ex-convicts, allow for expungement after good behavior or community service or completion of programs, decriminalize drugs, bail reform, more halfway houses, larger public defender system, create more groups and ministries inmates can join, etc.
In spite of all of the brilliant ideas that there are, they are nothing without a commitment by us to reform and accept. We need to give second chances. Otherwise, we will continue to send people to prison, let them serve time, refuse to accept them back into society and watch them fall back into prison. We’ve created a debilitating system that desperately needs attention, both politically and socially. It’s time we start creating opportunities for redemption and rehabilitation. If we want
I remember how hard it used to be to convince my wife to join Twitter. About the sixth time during each day that I’d burst into an immature cackle while scrolling through my feed, she’d roll her eyes, and I’d take that as my cue to try and convince her that Twitter was indeed a public good. I’d exalt the virtues of its use during instances of government suppression during the Arab Spring, or point out its real-time efficiency in figuring out traffic issues (people love to tweet about traffic while in traffic), but she knew the truth. I was in it for the nonsense.
Maybe you’ve seen it, and perhaps I’m just reopening old wounds, but Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson recently let this bit of “wisdom” fly:
“Study after study has shown that when men make less than women, women generally don’t want to marry them. Maybe they should want to marry them but they don’t. Over big populations, this causes a drop in marriage, a spike in out of wedlock births and all the familiar disasters that inevitably follow, more drug and alcohol abuse, higher incarcerations rates, fewer families formed in the next generation.”
Correlation or Causation?
Is He Right?
If there is one thing that social justice movements have proved, it is that there are multiple ways to successfully effectuate change. The Civil Rights Movement is certainly proof of this. Everyone contributed something that was instrumental to the betterment of the movement. Multiple groups and individuals emerged to push the movement forward each in their own unique way. The same can be said of the contributions that North Carolina Panthers’ (Panthers) safety Eric Reid and Philadelphia Eagles’ (Eagles) safety Malcolm Jenkins have made to the movement started by Colin Kaepernick in 2016. While they differ in approach, each has made invaluable contributions.
However, on Sunday their contributions were overshadowed. The attention was turned away from their contributions and was diverted to the escalating rift between Reid and Jenkins. Immediately following the pre-game coin toss, Reid approached Jenkins, and the two had an unpleasant exchange.
This rift is an unfortunate distraction from the greater purpose of the movement. In the midst of this feud, people may lose sight of the issues that Kaepernick sacrificed his career to bring light to. Kaepernick started the movement to shed light on the injustices of minority communities and to offer solutions to combat police brutality. It is important to make sure that this feud does not overshadow the purpose of the movement.
What Led to the Dispute between Eric Reid and Malcolm Jenkins on Sunday?
It would have been better for their differences to be worked out in private and for the protesting players to present a united front. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The rift between Reid and Jenkins is no secret. It stems from Colin Kaepernick’s protest and the establishment of the Players Coalition. In 2016, Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and lost his job as a result. Eric Reid was the first to join Kaepernick in the protest. Reid appeared to suffer the same fate as Kaepernick until the Panthers signed him in late September.
Other players eventually joined the protest. Among those to join was Malcolm Jenkins, who protested by raising his fist during the national anthem. Jenkins along with Anquan Boldin founded the Players Coalition (Coalition) in 2017 to combat social justice issues and racial inequality.
Initially, Reid was a member of the Coalition, and he and Jenkins stood together in their protest. Unfortunately, their union ended when Reid left the organization. Reid left due to a difference of opinion on what should be the Coalition’s primary focus and who should lead the organization. Reid wanted one of the Coalition’s goals to be getting Kaepernick back into the league. However, other members did not think Kaepernick’s employment should be a primary goal. With Jenkins at the helm, the Coalition struck a deal with the NFL without ever putting the Kaepernick issue on the table. After making the deal, Jenkins stated that he would no longer protest. After that, Reid left the Coalition. On Sunday after the game, Reid called Jenkins a “sell-out” and accused him of “co-opting” the movement.
The Feud Cannot Takeaway From the Movement
The public division amongst the protesting players puts the purpose of the movement at risk of getting lost. It is easy for dissenters of the movement to focus on the spectacle and use it to discredit the movement. The optics of the spectacle affirms what many dissenters think, which is that the movement is disorganized and fueled by protestors who cannot even agree amongst themselves. While this is not true, this is exactly the type of ammunition that opponents of the movement will use to discredit it.
Furthermore, the optics on Sunday affirms the contentions that NFL games are not the time or place for protesting because it distracts from the game. After Reid and Jenkins’ exchange, it is hard to argue that the protest does not distract from the game. Therefore, the feud between Reid and Jenkins could “co-opt” the movement.
What Reid and Jenkins Could do Differently
To keep that from happening, the protesting players need to demonstrate unity. They need to remind the public of the issues that they are fighting for. Although Reid and Jenkins have different approaches, they are both working for the betterment of minority communities. They both want to see improved police relations in minority communities. Both Reid and Jenkins have taken steps to move the movement forward and effectuate real change. This is what Reid and Jenkins need to keep in the headlines instead of their rift.
Jenkins has already taken a step in that direction. On Wednesday, Jenkins reminded everyone that Kaepernick started the movement and that it cost him his career. He also stated that Kaepernick should have a job in the NFL. While this is a step in the right direction, all protesting players need to make sure their actions do not distract from the greater purpose of the movement.
Unafraid Show is introducing a new weekly staple called HOT TAKES: These are hot takes and fun from the weekend. Send us your hot takes to ImMad@unafraidshow.com and they may make the next week post. Do not read any further if you are easily offended.
1. Enough with the ties in the NFL. We can’t just be friends. You called me those names, and I wore those outfits. We CANNOT just be friends. How can the cities of Green Bay and Minnesota accept a tie? Raiders vs Rams would never accept a tie. They would do a duel in the parking lot, Carr vs. Goff. Someone would die, but someone would WIN.
2. I applaud Vonte Davis for retiring at halftime of Bills game. Teams cut, release, and bench players (Bill Belichick/Malcolm Bulter) without notice. They don’t care about the precarious positions it put families, relationships, or friends in. So, why should I feel bad for the team? I shouldn’t and don’t. But it does suck for his teammates.
Donald Trump is calling this a win. Two weeks ago Davis would have retired during the anthem; now he did it in the locker room instead.
3. The Buffalo Bills are bad, but the Arizona Cardinals are worse.
4. Don’t expect this Ryan Fitzpatrick magic to last if he is named the starter. Every time he is the backup he plays excellent, but when he’s named the starter, it all falls apart. I love the FitzMagic outfit though.
5. Jaguars > Patriots, even when the playoffs come this year.
6. The NFL is smart. They got NFL fans are more mad about the roughing the passer calls than players kneeling.
Sidenote: what was Clay Matthews supposed to do, ask him to fall or lay a pad down for Kirk Cousins before the hit?
7. Patrick Mahomes will be better than Sam Donald, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, and Lamar Jackson combined.
1. Urban Meyer should quit while he is ahead. All this talking isn’t convincing anyone. It is only going to make reporters dig for more dirt that will actually get him fired.
Meyer is the guy who gets away with a crime then writes a book called, ” If I Did It”.
2. The NCAA is going to lose the Alston v NCAA case, and the landscape of college athletics will forever be changed. Players will be getting paid sooner rather than later.
GGG vs Canelo Robbery
GGG got worked by the judges. I wouldn’t trust boxing judges to judge a bake sale. They continuously deliver head-scratcher decisions. Boxing needs to make the judges scorecards public after each round. I bet there would be more knockouts when fighters press because they know they are behind!
When I see Canelo standing up to all those GGG power punches all I can think of is the PED tests for Canelo and how they may have made stronger.
1. Mueller must have had Paul Manafort’s ass in a sling if pleading guilty to two counts, forfeiting over $46 million in accounts and real estate, waving your right to an attorney, and snitching is your best option.
2. Things I’m waiting to hear about Tom Arnold and Mark Burnett’s Emmy’s preparty fight, but know I won’t:
I’m tired of these THUGS.
Spoiled brat millionaires.
What a terrible example to all the kids who aspire to be like them!
Send us your hot takes to ImMad@unafraidshow.com and they may make the next week post.