A day after Democratic Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s bonkers press conference in which he denied being in a racist yearbook photo but admitted to wearing blackface as Michael Jackson on another occasion, CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers stated that the governor doesn’t appear to understand his own racism while explaining the damaging impact of blackface.
During a panel discussion on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday morning, host Jake Tapper somewhat awkwardly turned to Sellers and asked him to “blacksplain” to the audience what the blackface/KKK photo means to African-Americans.
“First we have to say that Democrats and Republicans alike have problems with race in this country,” Sellers noted. “We can say that Republicans have more of an issue. That doesn’t matter. Racism is in the fabric of the United States of America. And when you see those images, you see the KKK. And the KKK just brutalized, raped, lynched, pillaged many African-Americans not just throughout the south but across the country.”
The former South Carolina lawmaker went on to say that “white people do not understand what blackface means” before referencing other incidents of students at prestigious private schools using blackface as a costume.
“When you have your son going out in blackface for a costume or your son goes to prep school or elite day schools and they dress up in blackface, basically it means you’re calling me n*gger,” Sellers declared. “The reason I say that is because blackface goes back to the mid-19th century where people were dressing up in minstrel shows showing African-Americans to be lazy, to be ignorant, to be hypersexual and to be all-out disrespectful to our culture.”
He then said images like that show that we have a serious issue with racism in America and Northam “doesn’t understand his own actions.” Sellers also pointed out that it was “traumatizing” to have to sit and critique these situations, wanting to know why the bar can’t just be set at “don’t be racist.”
Following the publication of the medical school yearbook photo and another yearbook showing Northam’s college nickname was “Coonman,” Democrats have been nearly universally united in calling for Northam to step down as governor. Meanwhile, Northam is refusing to resign, and while initially confirming he was in the racist photo, the embattled governor is now claiming he’s not pictured and has suggested it was placed on his page accidentally.
Watch the clip above, via CNN.