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Cohen on the US politicians' 'yearbook problem'

Racist displays are coming out on elected leaders

An Agence France Presse (AFP) story posted in theSundaily (Kuala Lampur) recounts recent events about the collections of old photos in yearbooks that are coming back to haunt America’s leaders. Several allegations have come recently showing some Virginia politicians in pictures with blackface and Ku Klux Klan robes and hoods. In relation to the history of racism Faculty Associate Philip Cohen commented that students in the 1980s “were the children of people raised in the 1940s and 1950s, the era of Jim Crow segregation. They grew up with legal job and housing discrimination” he added. Furthermore, outside black higher education institutions, “the House of Representatives was four percent black and there were no black U.S. senators. Half of adults opposed the new federal Martin Luther King holiday in 1983.”

Based on the recent news of yearbook’s photographs depicting racism, Cohen added “If yearbooks were a way for people to show off their ‘fun’ side, it is not surprising at all that this would include the kind of racist displays that are now coming out.” He concludes, “we can force a politician to resign for being racist; that’s progress."

See the complete AFP story in theSundaily article

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