While some progress has been made with eliminating racism in the United States, the amount of racist incidents reported in media shows there is still a long way to go.
Two recent events have sparked controversy across news networks and social media.
A picture recently resurfaced from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s page in his 1984 medical school yearbook depicting a person wearing blackface and standing next to another person dressed in a Ku Klux Klan costume. People have said the person is Gov. Ralph Northam, but he has denied these claims after initially admitting to it.
Northam initially apologized but later retracted his statement by saying it was, “Disgusting, offensive and racist.”
Northam admitted to previously wearing blackface as part of a Michael Jackson costume during a Texas dance contest during the 1980s.
Northam said he understands he was born into white privilege and why blackface is offensive to black people.
Democrats and Republicans have both contributed to the public pressure for Northam to resign. President Donald Trump took his thoughts to Twitter and described the picture as ‘unforgivable.’
Despite the backlash, Northam has not resigned his position.
Ally Porter, a student at the University of Memphis, said blackface is wrong and the incident never should have taken place.
“I have no idea what the intentions were, and he should not have done it,” Porter said. “I can’t imagine there was anything good coming from that, and that is not okay coming from a prominent figure.”
Blake Riecks, who works at Ohio State Waterproofing, said the situation is touchy.
“It is probably racist, but I don’t know the intentions behind it or why they would let that get published in a yearbook,” Riecks said. “As far as him standing next to a man dressed up as a KKK member, that is obviously way too far.”
Actor Liam Neeson’s comments have also caused an uproar. During an interview with The Independent, Neeson said his friend told him she was raped by a black man, and he said he wandered the streets in hopes he would be approached by a “black bastard” he could kill in retaliation to his friend’s alleged rape.
This interview was done to promote his new movie “Cold Pursuit,” in which Neeson’s character seeks revenge for his son’s death. Neeson was trying to convey how desire for vengence can cloud someone’s judgement, but he said something racist instead.
Neeson went on “Good Morning America” to explain his comments. He claimed the incident happened 40 years ago and nothing violent ever happened.
The actor insisted he was not racist, and he would have felt the same way if the accused rapist had been of a different race or ethnicity.
Neeson said he once sought a meeting with a priest to help get rid of his urge.
Many people have questioned Neeson on social media while other celebrities like Terry Crews have come to his defense.
“I believe that every person on Earth is capable of the greatest good, or unspeakable evil,” Crews tweeted.
Kelsey O’Brien, a senior from Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts, said Neeson’s actions deserve a pass, regardless of the fuel behind them.
“I think what he said was messed up, but it came from a place of intense anger and emotion,” O’Brien said. “It affected the way he handled the aftermath, but it does not excuse it.”