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  • What's more offensive: a racist yearbook photo or structural racism? | Zaid Jilani | Opinion

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See the news What's more offensive: a racist yearbook photo or structural racism? | Zaid Jilani | Opinion from Source Guardian on 12/02/2019 has been updated to day with the theme on feedixo.

What's more offensive: a racist yearbook photo or structural racism? | Zaid Jilani | Opinion

More than a week has passed since the discovery of an offensive photograph – featuring a man in blackface and another man in a Ku Klux Klan outfit – in the 1984 medical school yearbook of Virginia’s Democratic governor Ralph Northam.The photograph set off a national firestorm, with a wide array of Democratic and Republican party politicians and high-profile activists calling Northam to resign, declaring him to be unfit to serve.Shortly after the scandal broke, I made the case in both a Quillette piece and on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show that Northam’s apology for a mistake made 35 years ago should be accepted. Washington Post polling of Virginians shows that I’m not alone in my argument – the state is equally split on whether Northam should resign. Interestingly, 58% of African Americans say he should not.Increasingly, parts of the American political left have developed a puritanical mentality of shaming individuals who are perceived to be racially insensitive. Social media mobs kicked up on Twitter have targeted everyone from 15-year-old teenagers on the National Mall to an autistic woman in Brooklyn. But no amount of naming and shaming individuals who on occasion have behaved in misguided or obnoxious manners will change the structures that produce inequality – just as giving lectures to gang members or publicly shaming thieves won’t alter the structures that produce those forms of anti-social behavior.The poverty and environmental injustices that African Americans in the state of Virginia face are even more offensiveNorth Carolina pastor and progressive activist Reverend William Barber argued as much in a recent op-ed in the Washington Post. “Scapegoating politicians who are caught in the act of interpersonal racism will not address the fundamental issue of systemic racism. We have to talk about policy,” he wrote.The work of civil rights in Virginia, where I live, is not just about ensuring public officials don’t cause racial offense. Almost a third of African...

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See the news What's more offensive: a racist yearbook photo or structural racism? | Zaid Jilani | Opinion from Source Guardian on 12/02/2019 has been updated to day with the theme on feedixo.

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