Rehabilitation and Redemption Part 2: Virginia Politicians, Megyn Kelly, and Blackface

Blackface Megyn Kelly Northam Herring Virginia

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 were misdeeds. Barry Bonds played baseball in the steroid-era of baseball, yet he’s still not in the Hall of Fame because of this. Whether it is a politician, athlete, or even an inmate, we have to consider the environments that people grew up or operate in.

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 Kareem Hunt . In the NFL, fans and teams need talent. In politics, citizens look for party lines, common ground and issues that pertain to them. They vote and support many times in spite of the controversy. Nevertheless, just as it did with Incognito, scandals have a way of compiling and spiraling if change and growth are not actually sought after.

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 change to happen, we need to be that change. When we start pushing forward, giving people the space to admit their wrongs and grow, they will start changing. It won’t matter if they are an athlete, a politician, a friend or a family member. Everyone deserves redemption.

Rehabilitation and Redemption Part 1: Kareem Hunt is Entitled to a Second Chance in the NFL

Tucker Carlson Wants to End the War on Scrubs. As a Scrub, I say “What War?”

Tucker Carlson Fox News

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.

Sometimes I wish I hadn’t have taken up the task of persuading her to join the fray. For one, I’d be able to avoid seeing all the Kliff Kingsbury-related tweets she favorites. (Apparently, he’s good looking?) But the biggest reason I regret my wife’s presence on Twitter is that she recently alerted me to a piece of video that has launched me into a tailspin of mind-numbing internal debate and dissonance.

“Studies Show”…

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.”

Here’s the point that Tucker Carlson was trying to make, summed up. White rural modern families now resemble urban families of the 1980s in that there’s rampant male unemployment, a drug epidemic, and an increased rate of births out of wedlock. And his culprit? Women making more money than men.
“This is not speculation; it’s not propaganda… it’s social science. We know it’s true.” Carlson opined, without citing any of the studies he so confidently referenced.
And who did Tucker Carlson blame for his assertion that poor white men can’t afford to put a ring on it? Rich, married folks.
“Here’s the bewildering and infuriating part. The very same affluent married people, the ones who make virtually all the decisions in our society, are doing pretty much nothing to help the people below them get, and stay married. Rich people are happy to fight malaria in Congo, but working to raise men’s wages in Dayton of Detroit? That’s crazy. This is negligence on a massive scale. Both parties ignore the crisis in marriage. Our mindless cultural leaders act like it’s still 1961, and the biggest problem American families face is that sexism is preventing millions of housewives from becoming investment bankers or Facebook executives.”

Modern Family

I don’t know where to start here. I suppose I’ll define where I’m coming from. I’m a work-from-home dad supporting a spouse whose income at her second job greatly outweighs my primary income. I know that on the whole, there’s little value in anecdotes, so take it for what it’s worth when I say I’m not just content in my complimentary role to my spouse, but that I feel, as much as anyone with four kids can, that we’re thriving. I mean, we’re drowning in life’s unceasing avalanche of responsibility, but as far as drowning goes, I feel like we’re doing a decent job. If we were on a metaphorical drowning talent show, I like to think Simon Cowell would be impressed.
Anyway, I’m happy. So maybe it’s the fact that I can’t relate that causes these comments to fail to resonate with me. Or perhaps it’s that I tend to be on the conservative side of things politically, which is where I thought Tucker Carlson resided. It’s hard for me to place the blame for society’s woes on the fact that women aren’t falling all over themselves to wear a white gown and recite vows across from “Cletus the unskilled laborer,” who grew up residing in a manufacturing graveyard and refused to pivot so he could support himself, much less an eventual theoretical family.

Correlation or Causation?

Is my gender having a crisis? Sure. And we always have been. The fact that some women make some money now isn’t the root of our ills. Correlation doesn’t prove causation. I seem to remember learning that one of the things that historically hyper-accelerates women’s participation in the workforce are the wars we testosterone-possessing Homo sapiens show an affinity for both generating and participating in.
There’s nothing more emasculating to me than Tucker Carlson’s assertion that the L’s that the male gender has been collecting aren’t even L’s that we earned. We’re all just victims in a dark timeline, and the reason we’re strung out on the trailer sofa, playing Xbox, and waiting for the coal mine to reopen, is so that we can at least enter some kind of tunnel since the fairer sex has abandoned us. And it’s all because some well-adjusted suburban couple was busy helping reduce the global malaria death rate 48% from 2000-2015. Those charitable bastards.

Is He Right?

Maybe Tucker Carlson is right. I mean, he isn’t. This is an aggressively anti-woman diatribe that also manages to make America’s men completely dependent on government assistance to get them a job and a partner. But for the sake of argument, let’s say that he at the very least has a point about the fact that women should be attracted to men who don’t make a whole lot of money.
I mean, that’s something I’m not going to spend too much time fighting him on. Especially since it worked out for me. My wife seems to have failed to heed the words of Rozanda “Chilli” Thomas, who once famously said, “Wanna get with me, with no money, oh no, I don’t want no scrub.”
I suppose another option for our gender would be to man up while manning up still implies exerting effort in order to overcome adversity. We could learn and develop marketable skills in order to attract a mate, and help take care of the kids we sire. Maybe we can stop acting like scrubs altogether?
But why would we do that when our TV talking heads are hanging out the passenger side of their Fox News ride, trying to holler that there’s someone else to blame?