On Saturday, Virginia’s Democratic governor Ralph Northam refused to resign for a racist image in his college yearbook, reversing his previous apology for the image.
On CNN, Northam’s press conference was discussed by cultural critic and writer Michaela Angela Davis and anchor S.E. Cupp, both of whom were horrified by Northam’s remarks.
“The fact that he is standing there—when all these black leaders and leaders in his own party are calling for him to resign—the fact that he is still standing there is proof of his participating in white privilege,” said Davis. “It’s proof of his participating in this history, thinking that he even had a chance. That you could stand in that history and not acknowledge it.”
If Northam says it’s not him in the photo, he could have figured out who it was with the help of his alma mater, Davis said.
“He could have figured out who those people are by today,” Davis said. “He’s the governor of the state. He could have brought the institution there to apologize—no one has apologized from the institution for printing that.”
Anchor Ana Cabrera then aired a clip where Northam laughed and smiled when he was asked about whether he could still moonwalk, as he says he did while wearing blackface on another occasion while in school.
“Wow,” said Davis.
“He’s sort of looking around, like ‘Do I have room to do it?'” said Cupp. “He is making light of this. And he wants you to think that this is not that big a deal. He obviously thinks it’s not resign-able. It’s not that big a deal. He’s going to stick. He’s going to dig his heels in. That he sort of sheepishly looked around and considered this an opportunity to do that and sheepishly grins while he gets schooled by his wife, she says I can’t was grotesque. He clearly does not have the self-awareness of the moment, of the gravity of the situation, I thought the press conference was wildly inappropriate.”