Northam said he had been especially affected by a conversation with a black lawmaker, whom he declined to name, on the topic of blackface. He said he learned about the history of minstrel shows, where white people mocked black people “and exaggerated their characteristics and mannerisms.”
“And the main point that this person told me is that at the end of the day, the white person – just as I was the white person that dressed up as an African American dancer – at the end of the day we can take that makeup off and go back to being white,” but a black person continues to live in that skin and all that it represents.
Another black lawmaker, who he also declined to name, made a powerful point about white privilege, Northam said: That a white person who makes a mistake gets a second chance, while a black person might not. “That really helped put things in perspective for me to better understand why someone of white privilege has the opportunities that they have when an African American…doesn’t,” he said.