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‘I’m not perfect’: South Carolina sheriff candidate opens campaign with ad admitting to past ‘blackface’ incident

‘I’m not perfect’: South Carolina sheriff candidate opens campaign with ad admitting to past ‘blackface’ incident
Determined not to be the next casualty of a blackface scandal, a candidate for sheriff in South Carolina released a campaign video admitting his past indiscretion up front, getting ahead of opposition research.

Craig Stivender, a Republican running for sheriff in Colleton County, shows a photograph of himself wearing blackface “about 10 years ago.”

"I'll be the first to tell you I'm not perfect," Stivender says in the four-minute-long video. "I've made mistakes, and I wish I could change a thing or two."

He goes on to explain that the picture is from a law enforcement Halloween party during which he was dressed as drug kingpin ‘Big Meech’ Flenory — a member of the ‘Black Mafia’ family — and says he did it “to disparage a criminal whose actions hurt our community and country.” Flenory was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2008. 

Stivender recognizes, however, that this was a “different time” and acknowledges that his costume would be “troubling” to many people.

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To those who may be upset, I understand your disappointment, but I value honesty, so I'm opening my campaign with transparency,” he said.

Stivender's campaign ad is certainly one way of getting ahead of the "cancel culture" that punishes people over past indiscretions. While he was at it, he admitted to several other past lapses of judgement: an old driving ticket he received as a 16-year-old and said he had been in fender-benders “that were my fault.” 

I’ve been married, divorced and remarried. I've lost my temper and been reprimanded at work,” he continues.

Explaining the fairly unusual campaign strategy, Stivender says he wanted to admit to the things some politicians would usually “try to hide.” 

Considered an unacceptable mockery of African-Americans, blackface has been grounds for "canceling" many people, including comedians. There have been a few notable exceptions, such as Governor Ralph Northam (D-Virginia), who refused to resign after a yearbook photo emerged of him wearing either blackface or a Ku Klux Klan costume.

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