The wife of blackface-sporting Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam appears to now be ensnared in her own race scandal, thanks entirely to the allegedly disturbing behavior she exhibited when a group of eighth-grade students toured Virginia’s historical Executive Mansion where she and her husband reside.
While hosting the tour on Feb. 21, first lady Pam Northam allegedly handed cotton to the daughter of black state employee Leah Dozier Walker, who oversees the Office of Equity and Community Engagement at the Virginia Department of Education, and her friends. All three are black. She then allegedly asked the three to imagine being forced to pick cotton as a slave.
To some members of the far-left, this behavior reeks of the same racial insensitivity displayed by Northam’s husband, who admitted last month to having worn blackface in times past:
“Pam Northam handed raw cotton to her and another African American child and asked them to imagine being enslaved and having to pick the crop.”
— Charlotte Clymer?️? (@cmclymer) February 27, 2019
Oh #Virginia. What’s your problem? Handing out cotton to Black kids? Something ain’t right.
Virginia first lady under fire for handing cotton to African American students on mansion tour – The Washington Post https://t.co/Fcpiyfku1E
— Donna Brazile (@donnabrazile) February 27, 2019
If Pam Northam had done this to a white child, perhaps she may gotten somewhere. Only slavery is slavery, but one thing that white folks probably don’t have to do nowadays is ask young black children to imagine what it is like to live in a racist America. https://t.co/7SVguP0Zwj pic.twitter.com/lEgoF1L9kh
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) February 27, 2019
Oh my Lord! Virginia first lady handed cotton to black students on mansion tour. Yes, the same Pam Northam who told her husband that it was not appropriate to moonwalk during his press conference about wearing blackface while impersonating Michael Jackson.https://t.co/wfQOGiYB4h
— Tracy Jan (@TracyJan) February 27, 2019
Others have pushed back against the complaint, including Republicans.
Republican state Sen. William M. Stanley, whose daughter also attended the tour, confirmed that, according to his daughter, Northam handed cotton to every student, not just the black ones.
“The first lady’s intent was to show the horrors of slavery and to make sure everyone felt the pain they felt in some small measure,” he said to The Washington Post.
Walker has claimed otherwise.
“Pam Northam — a former middle school teacher — took groups of pages to an adjacent cottage that had long ago served as a kitchen,” the Post reported. “Before a huge fireplace with iron cooking implements, Pam Northam held up samples of cotton and tobacco to a group of about 20 children and described the enslaved workers who picked it.”
“Mrs. Northam then asked these three pages (the only African American pages in the program) if they could imagine what it must have been like to pick cotton all day,” Walker reportedly wrote in a complaint to lawmakers. “I can not for the life of me understand why the first lady would single out the African American pages for this — or — why she would ask them such an insensitive question.”
“I will give you the benefit of the doubt, because you gave it to some other pages,” Walker’s daughter wrote in a letter addressed to Northam. “But you followed this up by asking: ‘Can you imagine being an enslaved person, and having to pick this all day?’, which didn’t help the damage you had done.”
Others share this sentiment:
Now would be a good time to stop ignoring all the calls for you to #RESIGN @GovernorVA @FirstLadyVA You are doing deep damage to African Americans & harming the Democratic Party. Just go already. https://t.co/3ZiCZDjlKY
— Ken Horne (@HorneKen) February 28, 2019
Virginia first lady handed out cotton to African-American children on slave cottage tour, mother sayshttps://t.co/lTOnZgTEfk @PamNorthamVA @GovernorVA WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? WHY DO YOU CONTINUE TO DO HARM TO AFRICAN AMERICANS?You’re Harming All Peoples #BLACKLIVESMATTER
— YANEUSTAGE (@StageYaneu) February 28, 2019
Northam has for her part apologized for what happened.
“I regret that I have upset anyone,” she reportedly said. “I am still committed to chronicling the important history of the Historic Kitchen, and will continue to engage historians and experts on the best way to do so in the future.”
Walker’s not convinced.
“The Governor and Mrs. Northam have asked the residents of the Commonwealth to forgive them for their racially insensitive past actions,” she reportedly said. “But the actions of Mrs. Northam, just last week, do not lead me to believe that this Governor’s office has taken seriously the harm and hurt they have caused African Americans in Virginia or that they are deserving of our forgiveness.”
Not everybody shares this perspective. Some believe Northam had nothing to apologize for and that a history lesson is a history lesson, regardless of the recipients of said lesson:
I’m definitely not on Northam’s side here but don’t see a thing wrong w/the presentation. Cotton bolls aren’t soft like finished cotton and damage hands of those who picked it. My grand mother was a migrant worker and carried the scars of untended cuts from that and other crops. pic.twitter.com/LwqJa0azhO
— Marla Ya’ll cray cray Hughes (@MarlaMHughes) February 27, 2019
Sounds like a history lesson to me. If she had simply told the kids to imagine how difficult it would be to pick cotton all day without the visual aids would anyone be upset?
— ih8france (@ih8france) February 28, 2019
At first I thought wow that sounds offensive. But then I wonder did she only hand cotton to he black kids? Or all of them as part of a history lesson? Cotton isn’t racist. A (white) lady I used to help at my church used to tell me about how she and her family picked cotton.
— Super Elite MAGA Brat (@ChiefFabulous) February 28, 2019
I can see it from her POV: ‘history lesson: I’ll treat black and white kids alike in this instance of giving cotton to some black kids & to some white kids, and ask them to imagine being a slave. No big deal because all kids will see that slavery is bad.’ pic.twitter.com/nqQvaPFBqB
— pinksweet (@pinksweet) February 28, 2019
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