Governor Ralph Northam astonished the world at a press conference earlier this year when he denied appearing in blackface in a notorious 1984 medical school-yearbook photo — and then volunteered that he had darkened his skin that same year as part of a Michael Jackson costume for a dance contest.
The governor was widely mocked at the time for this admission and his seeming willingness to demonstrate the superstar’s signature moonwalk move in front of the cameras. However, a recently issued report by the McGuire Woods law firm was unable to find conclusive evidence that the governor appeared in the photograph, and, politically, the controversy seemed destined to fade away.
I beg to differ. My reading of the report finds that the law firm left many avenues of inquiry unexplored. Most significantly, the report failed to consider what be the most plausible interpretation of the photo: The figure in blackface was Northam dressed up as Michael Jackson!
Consider some points of similarity with the photo of Jackson below, taken in 1984:
Michael Jackson is wearing sunglasses. The figure in the photo is wearing sunglasses.
Michael Jackson is wearing a broad-rimmed hat. The figure in the photo is wearing a broad-rimmed hat.
In the photo to the left, Jackson’s hat is black, not white like that worn by the figure in blackface. But Jackson donned a wide variety of head wear, including a white fedora with a dark band that closely matches the hat worn by the figure in blackface.
A photo of that fedora, with Jackson’s signature, can be seen in a Pinterest photo, posted by the MJJC Legacy Team Project dedicated to “honouring, preserving & defending the legacy of Michael Jackson.”
Another point of similarity: the bow tie. Continue reading