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"Virginia's state government seemed unable to find anyone to run the place who has not either applied boot polish to his face while at college or been accused of sexual assault. " What do "run the place" and "either applied boot polish to his face while at college or been accused of sexual assault" mean in the sentence?

closed as off-topic by Hellion, choster, Dan Bron, Skooba, jimm101 Feb 14 at 13:32

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  • "Run the place" means "manage the business or other organisation". "Applying boot polish to the face" refers to the practice of [blackface (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackface). – n.m. Feb 13 at 14:30
  • @n.m. Put a couple of citations in that and you have a complete answer - go for it. – Spratty Feb 13 at 14:49
  • 'Run the place' is to be in charge of it. 'To have the run of the place' simply means to have free access to it. – Nigel J Feb 13 at 15:25
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"Run the place" in this context means "Lead the government of the state of Virginia."

All of the available leaders have been accused of unacceptable past behavior: "applying boot polish" means applying something black to the face to mimic African complexion. "accused of sexual assault" is a legal term; assault can mean many things, including touching, inappropriate comments, threats, and demands.

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