- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 7, 2019

The rap icon whom Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring used blackface to dress up as in the 1980s called the act “shocking” and “disrespectful” and said he “would love” to meet with the Democratic lawmaker to clear the air.

Kurtis Blow, whose real name is Kurtis Walker and is now an ordained minister, warned that “later we pay for” the mistakes of youth.He said he would also ask Mr. Herring “what were you thinking” in calling for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to resign over his blackface scandal just days before admitting his own.

The 59-year-old Mr. Walker said in a telephone interview with the New York Daily News that “it was shocking” to learn even a younger man would think that dressing in blackface was a tribute to an artist, as Mr. Herring said was his thinking at the time.

“When you paint your face, that is the most egregious and disrespectful thing you can do considering what we’ve been through. It’s opening up some deep, historical scars,” Mr. Walker said.

“We all do stupid things when we’re young, and this was done so long ago with Mark Herring, but there are many different ways to pay tribute to someone if you really like their music or style,” he added.

According to the Daily News, Mr. Walker said he would like to meet Mr. Herring on the matter and to discuss forgiveness. He added that there had been no communications to him from Mr. Herring or his staff in recent days.

“Christ says we need to forgive in order to receive forgiveness. It’s going to take some love to conquer the hate and racism that is apparent still in our society,” he said.

“Like I said, we all do crazy stupid things, and later we pay for it,” he continued. “I read his letter, and he really was apologetic, so we’ll see.”

The Harlem icon’s 1980 hit “The Breaks” was the first rap record to be certified gold and came only a year after the Sugarhill Gang released “Rapper’s Delight,” conventionally cited as the first rap record. Both songs were enormously popular even with white youths of the time, and Kurtis Blow was signed up by Mercury — the first rap act to nab a major-label recording contract.

Mr. Walker said whether the attorney general should resign is not a question for him but for Mr. Herring and his constituents in Virginia.

“I don’t want to be the judge of that. I’m not a political person. I’m waiting to see the outcome. I’m also waiting for some picture or a videotape,” he said. “We’ll have to see what his voters and colleagues will request.”

But the minister did bluntly call out Mr. Herring for saying Mr. Northam should resign in the immediate aftermath of a picture of a person in blackface and someone in a KKK hood decorated the governor’s medical-school yearbook.

“I would love to talk to him and pray for him,” Mr. Walker said. “I just would love to ask, ‘What were you thinking?’ How could he call for the resignation, knowing he had the same situation in his own past? He had the same skeleton in his own closet.”

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