Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam‘s alma mater, Eastern Virginia Medical School, was in the news last month because of his and other blackface photos in their yearbooks. Now the school was being recognized for its “diversity efforts.”
The National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education selected Eastern Virginia Medical School for its Institutional Excellence Award this year, according to The Virginian-Pilot. The school that shows “measurable progress in promoting and sustaining innovative diversity efforts” is given the award.
“Dr. Richard V. Homan, president and provost of the school, said he learned of the honor a few weeks ago — or, ‘after the chaos,'” according to the Virginian-Pilot. “I told my wife ‘God has a wry sense of humor.’”
Actually, no, your school was just rewarded after its lengthy racist history was exposed.
To remind you, Northam’s racist photo was published in 1984. Originally, the governor apologized for appearing in it before saying he wasn’t even in the photo. He also claimed he has only darkened his skin for a Michael Jackson costume.
He told CNN, “I believe now and then that I am not either of the people in this photo. This was not me in that picture. That was not Ralph Northam.” He continued, “I intend to continue doing the business of Virginia. I could avoid an honest conversation about harmful actions from my past. I cannot in good conscience choose the path that would be easier for me in an effort to duck my responsibility to reconcile.”
As for darkening his skin for a Michael Jackson costume, “I had the shoes, I had a glove, and I used just a little bit of shoe polish to put under my — or on my — cheeks. And the reason I used a very little bit is because, I don’t know if anybody’s ever tried that, but you cannot get shoe polish off…. I look back now and regret that I did not understand the harmful legacy of an action like that.”
More racist photos surfaced, one being from 1985, which included Michael Breiner, the Discipline Chair for Surgery and Associate Professor for Anatomical Sciences and Surgery at Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg, Virginia. He said went in blackface because he loved Diana Ross.
“It was a Halloween party,” Breiner told WFXR in February. “I am a big fan of Diana Ross. I love the Supremes. I have a lot of great African-American friends. I still do. And they gave me their blessing that this would not offend them.” Breiner then gave his version of an apology. “Do I regret it now? Yeah, because it’s a different time. This was 35 years ago.”
The caption in the 1985 yearbook read “who ever thought Diana Ross would make it to Medical School.” See the new clip below:
Clearly, this is the worst year for Eastern Virginia Medical School to receive a diversity award but — this is America!