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Recently, news broke that Virginia’s Democratic governor and attorney general both wore blackface in the 1980s. The controversy now enveloping the state has seemed all too familiar, as blackface photos of even more politicians have come out in recent years. How does this keep happening?

On this week’s Radio Atlantic, Alex Wagner asks the staff writers Vann Newkirk and Adam Serwer about the history of blackface: its origins, its meaning, and how it’s remained a presence in American culture for so long. Then they turn to the situation in Virginia. What does this revelation say about race and politics across the South?

Listen for:

  • An explanation of how blackface not only came to exist, but also became the most popular form of entertainment in America

  • Vann explaining how Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s 2017 election in the wake of Charlottesville factors into the state’s current crisis

  • How this moment may cause lasting damage to the Democratic Party in Virginia

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