Embattled governor of Virginia Ralph Northam denied on Friday that he was the individual wearing blackface in the now-infamous yearbook photo, but that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t worn the offensive makeup before. During an extremely uncomfortable conference with reporters in the Executive Mansion on Capitol Hill in Richmond, Virginia, Northam said that he had worn blackface before when he put shoe polish on his face and dressed up as Michael Jackson for Halloween in 1984.
According to USA Today, Northam denied wearing blackface in the recently-surfaced 1984 yearbook photo, and as evidence, he offered up the fact that he remembers wearing blackface on an entirely different occasion.
“My belief that I did not wear that costume or attend that party stems in part from my clear memory of other mistakes that I made in the same period of my life,” Northam said.
“That same year, I did participate in a dance contest in San Antonio in which I darkened my face as part of a Michael Jackson costume.”
He said that at the time, a friend explained to him that blackface was offensive and he says that he regrets wearing the costume. He added that he did win the contest, however, because of his moonwalking skills.
When reporters pressed him for more details on the offensive costume, he described the process of putting it on and his concerns about how to take it off.
“I had the shoes, I had a glove and I used just a little bit of shoe polish to put under, or on my cheeks,” Northam said.
“The reason I used a very little bit is because, I don’t know if anybody has ever tried that, but you cannot get shoe polish off.”
"I dressed up… Michael Jackson … I had the shoes, I had a glove, and I used just a little bit of shoe polish to put on my cheeks… It was a dance contest. I had always liked Michael Jackson. I actually won the contest because I had learned how to do the moonwalk."
— Northam pic.twitter.com/l2KRfh3bxD
— Howard Mortman (@HowardMortman) February 2, 2019
A reporter followed up by asking Northam if he could still moonwalk, to which the Virginia governor smiled and looked around as if he was considering a demonstration, but his wife cut him off and called the idea “inappropriate.”
Northam told the assembled reporters that he was sure he hadn’t worn the offensive costume in the photo because he felt ill after seeing the image, though he didn’t seem to acknowledge the contradiction after just admitting to wearing blackface for a Halloween costume.
He then added that he wasn’t racist because he had black friends.
The governor also admitted that his nickname had been c**nman, a racist term that he says he has no idea why people attached to him.
Despite the admissions and calls from individuals on both sides of the aisle to resign, Northam does not appear to be prepared to leave his position as governor.