WASHINGTON – Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has no choice but to resign following the reveal of a racist photo published on his medical school yearbook page and his inept and insensitive response. But one politician resigning from one office won’t address the structural racism that’s still infecting our society.
Ralph Northam’s early embrace of racist behavior such as blackface did not happen in isolation. It is part and parcel of a long history of policies, practices and cultural values that continue to uphold white supremacy. People of color–particularly women–lose their lives and sacrifice their dignity every day as a result of this toxic system. Swift action is needed to begin healing the racism so deeply ingrained in the United States–and put an end to the steady stream of injustices that people of color face.
America needs to look within itself and fix the institutional defects that allow white men to hold on to their privilege and disdain those who challenge them. Ralph Northam’s resignation as Governor of Virginia must be the beginning of a renewed national conversation about racial justice, not just the final curtain on a political career. Virginia needs a leader who can effectively call for dialogue and address the most appalling acts of racism and bigotry.
That leader is not Northam. He must resign.