As President Donald Trump continues to push his racist nonsense from the White House, officials across the United States continue to deal with ongoing public pressure over their own racist pasts. Florida GOP state Rep. Anthony Sabatini faced a call for his resignation this week from Florida Democratic Party Chair Terry Rizzo over a high school yearbook photo that’s emerged of him with his face blackened.
Rizzo asserts that the photo demonstrates a racist stereotyping jab at African Americans, but Sabatini told the Orlando Sentinel that the picture has been taken completely out of context. As he explains it, the occasion was simply him dressing to look like his childhood friend Brandon Evans — and Evans backs him up.
‘I’m 16 years old, one of my best friends at the time was black, and we thought at the time — looking back, it was immature — it would be funny to dress as each other… None of us thought 14 years later any of us would be a public figure and the photo would be decontextualized.’
‘We said, “I’m going to be you and you’re going to be me.” I don’t know how it got to be seen as racial. That’s all it was.’
State Democrats do not care for their defense, pointing to the recent resignation of Florida Secretary of State Michael Ertel over a photo of him donning blackface as part of an effort to make himself look like a Hurricane Katrina victim as evidence that Sabatini should resign too.
Sabatini’s 2018 Democratic opponent Cynthia Brown asserted:
‘I don’t care what age you are, where you grew up, what political party you belong in, this is no where we belong… Anthony, you can not represent ALL of the people of our district… Do what is right for once, step down and resign.’
The photo has circulated before, but attention has focused on the subject once again after the emergence of a similar photo from Virginia Democratic Governor Ralph Northam’s days in medical school. In an image featured on his yearbook page, two individuals appear in obviously racism-tinged outfits. One is sporting blackface, while the other is wearing white robes like those of the Ku Klux Klan.
After initially apologizing for the photo, Northam has insisted that neither one of the individuals is actually him. He’s proven so committed to his defense against calls to resign from across the state and national Democratic Party that he’s reportedly considered abandoning the party and governing as an independent.
The immediate political future for Northam’s administration is still up in the air considering Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring admitted this week to also wearing blackface in college.
President Trump has joined the pile-on against Northam, but he can’t escape the irony considering he himself routinely pushes racist positions including that the United States needs a border wall blocking off Mexico because of some special (in reality nonexistent) threat.
Considering the presently unfolding situation is how people react to high school and college racism — Trump has a steep hill to climb if he wants to get re-elected.
Featured Image via YouTube screenshot