Virginia has undergone a whirlwind of national press and none of it has been positive. Over the past week Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has admitted to appearing in blackface while attending Eastern Virginia Medical School, Attorney General Mark Herring admitted to appearing in blackface as a student at the University of Virginia and the 1980s and Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax has been accused of sexual assault by Scripps College professor Vanessa Tyson.
Virginia was the country’s first colony and the first place Africans arrived as slaves in this country. The Shock Exchange will not go into detail as to why wearing blackface is offensive and triggering to African Americans. However, the gesture could bring up painful memories of Virginia’s racist past that damage the lives of several untold African Americans throughout the state. One of the first names to come to mind is former Virginia Governor Harry Byrd who ruled Virginia politics for 40 years. Byrd’s byzantine organization filled with people only loyal to him has been studied by scholars throughout the country.