As shameful as it is, blackface as entertainment is an American tradition.
Because of its former prominence in entertainment, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have had to own their part in the racist practice in decades past.
Republican Governor Kay Ivey is the latest one to face backlash for her participation in mocking Black people and treating their skin color as a costume.
The news of Ivey's use of blackface came when student journalists at her alma mater of Auburn University discovered old yearbooks with numerous uses of blackface and other racist acts. One particular photo showed Ivey's sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta, welcoming new members by performing in blackface.
Ivey issued a public apology to her constituents.
BREAKING: Governor Kay Ivey releases video statement about audio recording about a college skit including blackface… https://t.co/p4nCjRsP4i— Lauren Walsh (@Lauren Walsh)1567107806.0
"I offer my heartfelt apologies," Ivey said, "for my participation in something from 52 years ago that I find deeply regrettable."
"I will do all I can going forward to help show the nation that the Alabama of today is a far cry from the Alabama of the 1960s...While we have come a long way, we've still got a long way to go, specifically in the area of racial tolerance and mutual respect. I assure each of you that I will continue exhausting every effort to meet the unmet needs of this state."
Though Ivey doesn't appear in the photo in question, her name is listed on the sorority page and she doesn't deny participating in blackface.
A subsequently unearthed radio interview from 1967 features Ivey and her then-fiance, Ben LaRavia, giving a damning interview. LaRavia describes the "most hilarious" moments of skit night activities and recounts Ivey appearing with "dark paint all over her face."
He even goes so far as to say:
"Should each of us ever reach a position that we could not remember back to our college days, all we need do is come back to the Auburn BSU and look at some of the pictures that they took that night and I understand that we would be quite humbled at this."
LaRavia's 1967 quote ended up being quite prescient, since Ivey claims not to remember her college days, and she's certainly humbled now.
Ivey is facing calls to resign or, at the very least, put significant work into combatting the racism that acutely affects former Jim Crow states like Alabama. People don't have a lot of faith that she'll do this work though, considering she previously said that calls to remove testaments to the Confederacy from public spaces is "
politically correct nonsense."
Of the monuments, Ivey said "we can't change or erase our history," and when it comes to her participation in blackface, people are agreeing: she can't erase that history with an apology.
Racism – in any of its forms – is never acceptable, not in the 1960s and not now. Governor Ivey’s actions were repr… https://t.co/XnAq8MkIqm— Rep. Terri A. Sewell (@Rep. Terri A. Sewell)1567114833.0
@aldotcom @reckonalabama This is an issue. I can not think she has changed. People don’t want apologies. They wan… https://t.co/1RCavFJXeX— Water Cam Tech (@Water Cam Tech)1567125792.0
@aldotcom @reckonalabama This is just like a racist! You are sorry when you get caught but you had no problem being… https://t.co/pzm7v2V1TW— D.J. Alexander (@D.J. Alexander)1567128464.0
@JoyceWhiteVance Idk why she's fake apologizing. I mean who is the apology too? I'm sure the people that voted fo… https://t.co/W1AwQPf95S— 🇻🇮🇻🇮#notmypresident🇩🇴🇻🇮 (@🇻🇮🇻🇮#notmypresident🇩🇴🇻🇮)1567106383.0
Only time will tell if Ivey will change her positions to repair her reputation, but it looks like the chances are slim.
Listen to the first two episodes of George Takei's podcast, 'Oh Myyy Pod!', where we explore the racially charged videos that have taken the internet by storm.
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