Continue to forgive, continue to learn

A racist photo taken more than 30 years ago of Virginia’s governor has surfaced. The photo shows one man dressed in Ku Klux Klan garb an another in blackface. When can racism be forgiven? 

Gov. Ralph Northam’s blackface scandal is another painful reminder of a dark part in our country’s history. Let us be reminded that Virginia held the Confederacy’s capital in Richmond and was a major proponent of slavery. Although many Americans since have learned to embrace others regardless of their skin color, it cannot be denied that racism has been in embedded in Virginia’s culture for a long time — and still is. However, are we to forgive a young college student’s portrayal of blackface, in what appeared to be a silly joke of bad taste?

The Northam controversy is just one out of billions of examples of why what gets printed or posted cannot be taken back. To have responsibility and self-control over one’s reputation is extremely important to the world today. 

Forgiveness toward racism does not come easily, and it shouldn’t. Racism should not be tolerated whatsoever.  

“Blackface in any manner is always racist and never OK,” NAACP President Derrick Johnson tweeted. “No matter the party affiliation, we can not stand for such behavior, which is why the @NAACP is calling for the resignation of Virginia Governor @RalphNortham.”

Northam has no plans of resigning. With so many conflicting views, it’s understandable that some are calling for his resignation. However, we do not believe he should be punished so severely for something that happened so long ago.  

Racism should never be tolerated under any circumstance, but Northam’s rather ignorant display was over 30 years ago. The timeline still does not make his act acceptable, but we must allow others to learn from their mistakes. We must understand that with time and education, people can learn the harmful effects of their actions, and grow from it, just like the majority of Americans did.

Northam can take this horrible time of ignorance and turn it into something that helps others. He could speak about his growth as a person. He could educate college students on the importance of being thoughtful and respectful to everyone. 

We can’t continue to punish the ignorance of our past. We should praise the progression of change and continue to educate those who are still making bad life choices. Forgive the ignorant college student, but learn from his mistakes.  

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