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In a wild press conference today, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) denied that a picture from his yearbook of two men in blackface and a Ku Klux Klan costume was him.
Northam did this by admitting he wore blackface on another occasion, saying that in 1984 he attended a Michael Jackson tribute dance party in San Antonio, where he donned blackface.
Northam said he did not consider that incident blackface, saying he used shoe polish to darken his skin. Which is what blackface is. He said he regrets that specific incident and has “learned from it.”
Northam said that because he remembered that incident so well, he believed he could earnestly say it wasn’t him in the picture that exploded over the internet.
Naturally, the “I didn’t do blackface there, but did it somewhere else,” defense didn’t go over well online.
Ralph Northam defending himself by bringing up a time that he did wear Blackface as Michael Jackson is a Hall of Fame Self-Own— Michael Tannenbaum (@iamTannenbaum) February 2, 2019
Well, it's an argument. He doesn't think that picture was of him in blackface because he vividly remembers the other time he allegedly wore blackface. pic.twitter.com/qpBwfj1dFf— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahNRO) February 2, 2019
To Ralph Northam’s credit, he did not appear at his press conference in blackface.— Colby Hall (@colbyhall) February 2, 2019
[walks out to the mound]— new year, same shrill (@theshrillest) February 2, 2019
[takes the ball out of northam's hand]
you just didn't have it today, son
If you had "darkened my face to participate in a Michael Jackson dance competition" on your Northam speech bingo card, congratulations.— Franklin Leonard (@franklinleonard) February 2, 2019
galaxy brainnnnnnnnnnn https://t.co/f8EUPPT0q3— thank u, jeff (@thecultureofme) February 2, 2019
When the news of the picture broke on Friday, Northam originally apologized for the picture, seemingly admitting that he was in the photo. However, he has since walked that back, saying the picture was mistakenly placed on his yearbook page. He said it is “horrific” that the picture appeared on his page, but is adamant it is not him.
In the wake of the initial story, numerous Democrats called on Northam to resign. In his press conference, Northam dismissed the calls, saying resigning would be taking the “easy” way out, and hoping this incident would spark a conversation.
David Covucci is the Layer 8 editor at the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the web. His work has appeared in Vice, the Huffington Post, Jezebel, Gothamist, and other publications. He is particularly interested in hearing any tips you have. Reach out at [email protected]