Ralph Northam’s Yearbook. Should He Resign?


Ralph Northam’s yearbook from medical school has suddenly become headline news on every major outlet. What is clear is that he appeared in a highly offensive photo on his yearbook page. What is unclear is if he is the person in the KKK outfit or blackface. Does it really matter? The Virginia governor has issued the following apology.

Ralph Northam’s Yearbook Apology

“Earlier today, a website published a photograph of me from my 1984 medical school yearbook in a costume that is clearly racist and offensive.”

“I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now.”

“This behavior is not in keeping with who I am today and the values I have fought for throughout my career in the military, in medicine, and in public service. But I want to be clear, I understand how this decision shakes Virginians’ faith in that commitment.”

“I recognize that it will take time and serious effort to heal the damage this conduct has caused. I am ready to do that important work. The first step is to offer my sincerest apology and to state my absolute commitment to living up to the expectations Virginians set for me when they elected me to be their Governor.”

Ralph Northam's yearbook.
Ralph Northam

My thoughts:

This isn’t good enough. Some folks will argue that this was a long time ago. Moreover, it was a different day and time. Furthermore, he has owned it and apologized. Not good enough.

I would accept any or all of those explanations if he had owned this before the election. Had he put this out himself, talked of his regrets, and apologized for his actions. It’s too late once you’ve been caught.

To be clear, this is a highly offensive photo. Had he released it during the primary it would seriously hurthis chances at winning. True. That said, Americans tend to be very forgiving when they see genuine remorse. I have no reason to suspect that wouldn’t be the case in Virginia.

Ralph Northam’s yearbook photo is a forgivable offense. His failure of leadership is not. Ralph Northam needs to resign as governor of the state of Virginia.

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