Virginia officials under fire for black face photos

Harvard professor says "we shouldn't be surprised" by the revelations.
6:52 | 02/08/19

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Transcript for Virginia officials under fire for black face photos
The political turmoil that has gripped the state of Virginia and the top three political officials in that state. It's now been exactly one week since that racist picture appeared in the yearbook of governor Ralph north them. Hot in if there's one thing this past week has taught us it's that black face. Has been a phenomenon that has shown striking persistence on the campus is an American colleges and universities stretching. Into the 191990s. And to talk a little bit more today about black face in its place in American society a conversation that's been going on all weaker want to bring in. Leader right we're grew worse she's an assistant professor of public policy at Harvard University. The Kennedy school of government she's also historian of race. An American politics it's great to see you Rea thanks for common end. As a student of history myself. It I what I think a black face I think of the the late nineteenth century early twentieth century but I've sort of a surprise this week to see so many examples instances of it. Popping up not just in the eighty's and ninety's but very recently why is this still happening. We've seen a lot of incidents laps or you will we in the news and multiple industries. And we shouldn't necessarily be so that happening at this is in pretty it's so every year your doubt doesn't particularly around Halloween dozens of incidents and last we hear incidents you know 82 people in public officials you know if we were to clone the group. Three year premier. We would probably buying a lot of or nine images. Would not eat. Nothing near. Why is it her sixth a lot of reasons it continues. Cents. Leaders. And one aspect. Racial ignorance is serious and your people eating and now there's a lot. Governor north mention racial ignorance. But at the same name. Beer is an exclusive understanding. Green. And black beast is. Dehumanizing. And violent. Soon actually explaining explaining what time. We. Need people actress you know we're engaging in knowing. It just didn't think it would it. Yeah is in in Ralph north and as you glued to their Arab thinking back to the press conference he had last weekend sort of admitted as much he said look. We came out shocked everybody and said that he would put on shoe polish for Michael Jackson contests in the eighties he said he he's in his words he's still learning he didn't. Think at the time that this was an offensive thing. How do you explain to people out there particular in the middle the country's southern parts of the country. Who simply do you know younger people who didn't grow up in that generation how do you explain why that's so offensive how to help us. It's sort of hone that message for our audience. Laundry. Is away or ridicule. In early she would nine's. Oh being used to dehumanized. Racial groups and wow look at Latinos. And Asian Americans appeal and I need Americans see different incidents. At age he'll be based on eight. United. Still be. Is that it isn't. And humanize it is ready to boxes perceptual alliance's African American isn't just African Americans. I'm aren't interiors it also door or violence why because we don't treat people Aaron. Note agree. I think. When you are able to human. There's a connection between these grounds on historical connection. Between flat fees and violence. And look. At the Venetian race. It next. We've seen it be so swiftly condemned in Virginia that was interest in wind brought Ralph North Adams photograph the racist photograph appeared. Last Friday one week ago in his medical school yearbook. And then we learned of course about the attorney general who admitted he also had had experience with black face. What do you think about the instant reaction we've seen there from so many Democrats national to state level. That this sort of behavior even if 2030 years ago is automatically disqualifying for political office do you think. As some are saying that that's political correctness gone too far. Or do you think that is an appropriate responses teenage. Given that behavior. When it was more all I'm position increases the safety Ed act last eight and what it represents. Use a moral outrage when it is dehumanizing. To buy and as all racist history. And that's important cancer news. We'll put the so in this let me turn all of these conversations that Democrats and their own political. Politicians and elected officials is she beat is buying. Black violence. At C linked. You. Are Democrats eight. The more and it's against BC well you must sit down because this is the line of child's you know across the now. Our army in the Virginia. Are. Still calling weapon at. It's in that's an interest in distinction you make between politics and of course the political platform of the democratic party of Virginia also just this moral question. Which of course is also included a discussion this week of forgiveness. Open nests you know one's heart if you will on the process maybe perhaps that's a different matter. Com if you weren't in politics interesting to see just a few minutes ago actually Ralf North American we have the tweet. Governor of Virginia did tweet for the first time in a week we've heard from a me treated on picture. The meeting he's had just this afternoon. In his office down in in Richmond Virginia with the president of national black former association. I their dioceses have enjoyed hearing from John Boyd today thanks for your work. On behalf of black farmer so perhaps here rough north and again showing trying to show at least publicly that he's taking these steps. And we shall see how that plays out sort of status quo politically today rough north and the still governor lieutenant governor just infer facts is still there. And mark hearing attorney general still sticking in there it's great to have you with us we're right we're gore. From Harvard University think he so much and I appreciate your perspective. Yeah.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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