Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Too Much At Stake

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Too Much At Stake

Like so many others, I was appalled by the revelation of a Blackface image on Governor Northam's medical school yearbook and felt that he should definitely resign from office. On further reflection, however, I came around to the belief that the governor should instead keep his job in Richmond. My reasoning is that if Northam resigns or is forced from office, surely the dominos will fall, meaning that the Republican Speaker of the House will likely become governor and will preside with a one or two vote margin in the General Assembly. And, if that scenario occurs, I have no doubt that among one of the new governor's first orders of business would be to repeal or at least significantly marginalize the expansion of the Medicaid program.

It's important to remember that Governor Northam almost single-handedly was responsible for the enactment of Medicaid Expansion, which will bring comprehensive health insurance to more than 200,000 very low-income African Americans in the Commonwealth (including a few thousand in the City of Alexandria). Repealing or marginalizing Medicaid Expansion, in my mind, would represent a far greater affront to the dignity, the value and the hopes of the African American community than Northam's shameful, ignorant and, yes, racist affront 35 years ago by applying black shoe polish on his face.

Finally, it's worth pointing out that Alexandria's own reputation remains somewhat "blackfaced" as long as the "Lost Cause" Confederate statue remains in the middle of a major thoroughfare in Old Town and our only public high school — the largest one in the Commonwealth — still bears the name of a segregationist.

Richard Merritt