The governor of Virginia is under fire for appearing on his medical school yearbook page either in blackface or in the uniform of a KKK member. The date was 1984, twenty years after the signing of civil rights acts and even more years since the murder of Emmett Till, the Montgomery bus boycott, or the beating of Selma marchers. Plenty of years to have learned that blackface and KKK costumes were not appropriate party wear. Plenty of time to learn that many things are offensive and that society, in general, should become aware and adjust their behaviors.
Well, it doesn’t appear that just the future governor of Virgin was out of the loop. According to a report in USA Today, ” Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, a stunning number of colleges and university yearbooks published images of blatant racism on campus.” Such was found inside 900 publications at 120 schools in the nation.
USA Today collected a large number of examples of material considered offensive or racist from public schools in the South as well as private Ivy League schools in the Northeast.
Well, this isn’t the 1970s and 1980s any longer forty to fifty years have passed and we should be able to consider ourselves better informed, less intolerant, and further removed from old divisive attitudes that acted to keep us separate and at odds. Yet when we turn on the TV and hear of a military officer wanting to kill most life on earth to create a white utopia or crazed gunners wiping out congregations at Jewish Synagogs in Pennsylvania, black churches in South Carolina, and white Baptists churches in rural Texas, where’s the evidence we’ve learned anything.
And when the far-right in this nation, including the man who occupies the White House, go to any length to fan the flames divisive hatred and intolerance, the evidence becomes invisible.