Jerry Falwell Jr made a blackface joke on Twitter on May 27, 2020. While it was directed at Virginia Governor Ralph Northam it has highly insensitive in light of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. As a result of Falwell’s blackface an African-American Liberty University professor resigned in protest.
“There is nothing wrong with you if there are times you get weighed down by the heaviness of the suffering in the world.”
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!
Psalm 57:5 ESV
Jerry Falwell Jr.
As rioting and unrest continues as a result of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis and elsewhere, Jerry Falwell Jr. made a racist joke that led to an African-American professor to resign in protest. Here is what happened. On Twitter on May 27, 2020 Jerry Falwell Jr continued his protest of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. For those outside Virginia Northam was involved in a racial scandal in February 2019. In his medical school yearbook from Eastern Virginia Medical School in the 1980’s Northam appears in a blackface photograph. It became a political scandal in Virginia. Northam first admitted and then afterward he denied it and persisted in the issue until the scandal became a non-issue with Virginians. Falwell brought up the blackface and in his Tweet on May 27 he also pushed for the hashtag calling for a number of counties to secede from Virginia. For more background on that read this article. Here is the tweet which I grabbed from John Fea’s blog.
I was adamantly opposed to the mandate from @GovernorVA requiring citizens to wear face masks until I decided to design my own. If I am ordered to wear a mask, I will reluctantly comply, but only if this picture of Governor Blackface himself is on it!#VEXIT#EndLockdownNow pic.twitter.com/twu7r4rWhd
That was followed by two more tweets which you can see below. Pay attention to the COVID-19 mask that Jerry Falwell Jr created.
Over at The Root they wrote about Jerry Falwell Jr’s blackface mask issue. Here is part of the article. Part of it is baffled as to why some people are making such an issue about a mask. But the article also points out the blackface issue.
First of all: Can we just acknowledge that the conservative resistance to wearing face masks makes no sense? This isn’t like the push to reopen the economy because, for all of that campaign’s faults, it’s at least about getting people back to work. The anti-face mask thing, on the other hand, just seems like arbitrary defiance for the sake of defiance. It’s just odd that all of these Republican officials, including y’all’s president, seem so hellbent on dying on that particular hill. (Editor’s note: Perhaps literally. COVID-19 is not a game.)
Falwell—the man who once had arrest warrants issued for journalists because they were covering his widely criticized decision to reopen Liberty U’s campus despite the dangers of the COVID-19 outbreak—took things a step further by randomly invoking racism to make his point.
For those who are unfamiliar with the story, Northam caught black people’s collective side-eye last year when a photo from Eastern Virginia Medical School’s 1984 yearbook was unearthed, showing him in blackface next to someone in KKK attire. Northam initially apologized for the photo then later denied it was him in the photo at all. This was certainly a drag-worthy offense, but Falwell is still way out of his lane here.
On its face (pun intended), Falwell’s tweet just makes it seem like he’s planning to wear a mask with a Klan member and a white guy in blackface on it. It just looks like him being racist as hell, which is probably why he needed to clarify things in a separate tweet.
“Just so folks outside Virginia unfamiliar with the pic on the mask understand: it is from the personal page of the medical school yearbook of @GovernorVA,” he tweeted. “Just a way to shine a spotlight on the fact that Democrats are and always have been the real racists in this country.”
In response to Jerry Falwell Jr’s blackface comment a Liberty professor who teaches online submitted his resignation and wrote a strongly worded protest. Christopher House is a tenured communications professor at Ithaca College. He also is the senior pastor at Christian Community Church. You can read his resignation below.
Analysis and Closing Thoughts
This blog wonders if there will be more people who will resign and follow Christopher House’s lead. To this day I remain puzzled as to why some people think Jerry Falwell Jr deserves to be respected and ask why do people want to attend Liberty? For me it makes no sense. What makes Jerry Falwell Jr’s comments even more heinous is the timing in which everything is going on. Minneapolis is in a state of unrest and a riot is spreading and here is Jerry Falwell Jr making a racial joke while the fallout from George Flyod’s death continues. Can a person be any more insensitive? Some may say its wrong for me to tie those together. I firmly disagree. Floyd’s death teaches us that racism is a serious issue and it also tells us that Falwell reveals his white pride which is quite racist in his conjecture. To make such a perverse joke about blackface with everything going on is like making inappropriate jokes in the wake of the Rodney King or Treyvan Martin situations. A blackface joke is always inappropriate – but even more so when there is racial unrest. No person of decency, integrity or humility would act that way in the way in the aftermath of such an incident. Yet Jerry Falwell Jr continues to push the outrageous. How narcissistic of him.
Why people consider Jerry Falwell Jr a Christian is beyond me. Why people want to attend Liberty is beyond me. Why people think that a degree from Liberty will help them in the world is beyond me. A degree from Liberty is about as reputable as a degree from Trump University. This blog has deep respect for Christopher House and applauds his resignation. People need to walk with their feet. May more do so and may courage continue as people make for the exits.