Letter: David Williams, Lincoln

Editor: Good for Al Van Huyck for his letter last week defending Attorney General Mark Herring from charges of racism stemming from his black face incident in college, but I would go even further.

One hundred years ago, even 50 years ago, blackface was indeed a tool of humiliation and ridicule since blacks were seen as far from beautiful or admirable by whites.  The ridicule stung especially because so many blacks had been in M.L. King’s term “brainwashed” into believing this lie. But that started to change in the ’60s when blacks like James Baldwin, Jesse Jackson, and King proclaimed “Black is beautiful.”

We are still in the turmoil of that change, not there yet, but it is possible to believe that in 50 years being black will be considered much as we consider left-handedness or being Irish, not something to be ashamed of nor something ugly. Then, if the racist stigma of the past is truly gone,( and we who remember the ‘60s are astonished at the changes already) we can imagine whites coloring their faces to celebrate their heroes as kids dress up as heroes on Halloween.

This seems to be what happened in 1980 to Mark Herring when he and his college friends dressed up to celebrate, not ridicule, their favorite rapper, Kurtis Blow. This is an old American move, Yankee Doodle calling his feather Macaroni or Bart Simpson “underachiever and proud of it” or gays embracing the insult “queer” turning insult into pride. If so, Herring was ahead of his time and should be seen as forward looking, not backward after all.

David Williams, Lincoln

2 thoughts on “Letter: David Williams, Lincoln

  • 2019-02-27 at 6:18 pm
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    Guess how much beauty was seen in the blackface of the Florida Republican elected as Secretary of State? Answer: none. He was forced to resign. Is the Lt Gov. going to be forced to resign after credible accusations of sex crimes together with corroborative evidence – unlike those made against Brett Kavanaugh – have been made? How about our Governor who clearly used blackface and put a picture of someone (maybe his future wife?) in KKK uniform. I think a Republican putting such a picture in his university yearbook (not even Med school), would already be in the dustbin of history. How about the Democrat legislator in Maryland who has been sent away after using the ‘n’ word, but only for ‘sensitivity’ training?

    I don’t think our past youthful bad taste – other than crimes – are matters we should use to persecute and prosecute public figures today but after seeing the joke political and public destruction of the President’s former lawyer today (totally ignoring attorney-client privilege and any sense of fair play) to do nothing more than smear the President I would ask how genuine is the concern for fair play for Herring and how much is this strictly political? Is any Democrat apologizing for the outrageous and totally unjustified smearing of Ed Gillespie or George Allen? No; forgiveness is sought only for Democrats. If you want a more civil society, a worthy goal certainly, look in the mirror Democrats and until you start treating your political opponents with civility I would suggest that the Democrats live by their own Alinsky standard and are forced to honor he rules they set. This seems to be nothing more than trying to save Herring as the one essential Democrat to keep Virginia Democrat in case Northam and Fairfax have to resign. Let’s not forget Herring hosted a stop the hate session not too long ago in Loudoun where he ludicrously suggested that the only hate he was worried about was essentially that of white republicans. This puts into focus the complete phoniness of his ‘confession to blackface’ a few months later. We are all human and make mistakes but civility needs to cease being a demand from those who are intolerant of anyone who opposes their point of view.

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