Blackface not OK, Steele says, but time, place and culture matter

Virginia's top three elected officials remain engulfed in scandal Thursday as many wonder how to move forward.

Gov. Ralph Northam is clinging to office after the revelation that a photo of two men in blackface and KKK costumes was published on his 1985 yearbook page. If Northam resigns, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax would be in line to replace him. Fairfax, however, has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman 15 years ago, a charge he denies. The next official in line, Attorney General Mark Herring, also admitted that when he was a teenager, he once wore blackface to a party.

Maryland's former Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele joined FOX 5 to take a look at the current political situation in the commonwealth and said, regarding the blackface issue, context matters.

"I think we need to be clear. No it's not appropriate. But we also have to keep in mind the context," Steele said. "Time, place and culture matters."

Steele said he grew up in Washington and is very familiar with the politics and the culture of this area. "The behaviors in the 1980s and before are, you know…today we would look at and go "How dare you? I can't believe you would do that," he said.

"At that time and place, the culture allowed for that despite what people want to say or think today," he continued. "There were those circles in which people could come into a party in blackface and everyone would laugh and think it's funny. Today, not so much."


WATCH the full interview with former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele in the player above.