Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Symbols of Oppression

A statue of Robert E. Lee is removed from Lee Circle in New Orleans in May 2017.
A Robert E. Lee statue is removed from Lee Circle in New Orleans, May 2017. By Abdazizar CC-BY-SA 4.0

Facts are freely available to people who want to know them. The facts about Confederate monuments are clear. The context in which they were erected is not debatable. So knowing the facts, people who still support Confederate monuments, are willfully supporting a false version of history. 


I’m obsessed with history and genealogy. I can read about and talk about American history all day. The Civil War is one of my favorite topics. But my obsession is for the truth ... the good, the bad, and the ugly. I have no interest in romanticizing the past and celebrating the Confederacy.

Trust me, when I dig through the wills of my ancestors whose descendants fought for the Confederacy, there is nothing there to make me feel proud. There is nothing to celebrate.

My Confederate ancestors descend from enslavers who listed my black ancestors in the inventories of their wills along with the wagons, kitchenware, horses, pigs, and cattle. Their monetary “values” are included. They leased them to neighbors, sold them off to raise money, and did whatever they wanted to with them or to them.

I’ve always found it interesting that the people who say African-Americans whine about slavery and racism too much are the same people who have the firmest grip on their Confederate flags and the tightest embrace of their monuments.

People who want to celebrate the Confederacy and honor their Confederate ancestors have the right to do that on their own land and with their own dime. I have lived all of my adult life in the South, so I see Confederate flags in yards and on vehicle bumpers every time I go out. It’s a part of the Southern landscape. I actually support the right to do that even if the fact is that that flag, like Confederate monuments, represents oppression, racism, Jim Crow, and a belief in white supremacy. 

However, the taxpaying public —- which includes me and other people of all races and backgrounds  —- shouldn’t have to pay for monuments that honor symbols of oppression.

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