Kurtis Blow says he was blown away when Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring admitted this week he wore blackface to dress up as the revered rap legend in 1980.
“It was shocking to me,” Blow, 59, told the Daily News in a phone interview Thursday.
“It’s just shocking that we still have blackface representing what this country or this society is really all about,” he said.
The Harlem hip hop icon who’s now an ordained minister didn’t call on Herring to resign when asked his thoughts on what should happen next.
Instead, he said he wants to meet with the elected official to possibly reach a place of forgiveness. And he said Herring should do what his constituents in Virginia ask of him.
“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 said.
“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,” he said.
Blow, whose 1980 mega-hit “The Breaks” was the first rap song to be certified gold, said he read Herring’s apology and has some questions.
He found it hypocritical that only days before his own admission, Herring called on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to resign from office over a similar admission he wore blackface.
Northam made the disclosure after his personal page in his 1984 medical school yearbook surfaced showing a photo of one man in blackface and another man dressed as a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
“I would love to talk to him and pray for him,” Blow told The News, referring to Herring. “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.”
The music icon said that as far as he knows, no one on Herring’s staff has tried to reach out to him.
“He should know this is a teaching situation for our young people. We have to be smart. We’re living in a day and time where these things are put under the magnifying glass,” he said.
He said as a minister, he’s called to face difficult situations like this head-on.
“When other people would run, we’re called to run to it,” he said.
“We have kids out there still doing blackface today. We need to concentrate more on our commonalities,” he said.
“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. “Love is the key, love is the answer. It’s the only way we’re going to get rid of racism, the only way to mend hearts that are hurting.”
Asked if Herring should continue in his office or resign, Blow said it wasn’t his place to say.
“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 video tape,” he said.