Confederate Statues and What to Do About Them
After Charlottesville, more Confederate statues are coming down. And many people don’t understand why. They believe the statues are “our history,” and should remain. Our schools have not taught us the truth. We must educate ourselves. We must be willing to share the knowledge with those who want to hang on to these symbols of the Confederacy. The statues and monuments were not erected to hold on to “the truth” about the Civil War, but to serve as everlasting symbols of white supremacy. These things are not erected at the time (or even shortly after) but are put up later to enforce the status quo.
Most of the Confederate monuments in the United States were commissioned and erected during times of racial strife, or by organizations that championed white supremacy. They were built as part of a concerted effort to glorify and sanitize the history of the Confederacy.
You can read what The Business Insider has to say on the topic here.
When Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream Speech ” in Washington DC, he was the tenth speaker of the day. Congressman John Lewis was the sixth speaker that day. Today he is the only one of those speakers still alive. He is also still a leader of the civil rights movement, and he believes it is time for mass non-violent action in this country, from coast to coast.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) agrees and has published Ten Ways to Fight Hate, which is free and can be read here.
Essayist Roxane Gay says, “Resistance is the responsibility of everyone who believes in equality and demands the eradication of racism, anti-Semitism and the hatred that empowers bigots to show their truest selves in broad daylight. I am reminding myself that I should never allow my fears to quiet me. I have a voice and I am going to use it, as loudly as I can.” Her full article can be read here.
Some people believe that in addition to taking down the statues of the Confederacy, we should be putting up statues about slavery, given the inadequate education on the topic in our schools.
At the Whitney Plantation, which is a museum dedicated to telling the story of slavery in this country, they believe telling the stories of slaves makes a difference in all our lives. People come to the museum (a reservation is now required, the museum is so popular) and are changed. They often cry because of what they learn there that they never knew. The Whitney Plantation Museum is located in Wallace, Louisiana. When you arrive, you are given the image and name of an enslaved person to wear for the day. Michael Patrick Welch detailed his visit there in this article on Vice.
Fight This Hate
People Power created a lecture entitled “When Heritage= Hate: The Truth About the Confederacy in America.” ACLU’s top expert on racial justice issues, Jeffery Robinson, discusses the dark history of Confederate symbols and monuments across our country, and outlines what each of us can do to better learn from our history. Even if you think you know everything about this topic, you might learn something new. Even Robinson has learned new information (which he shares) in the weeks leading up to his lecture. The video was live-streamed and is now available on youtube. It’s an hour and forty minutes long, so set aside the time. Feel free to share with anyone interested. Here is the link.
Police Kill a Black Transgender Woman in St. Louis
Kiwi Herring was a married transgender woman who had complained of threats and harassment, according to her family members. The 30-year-old Mississippi native, who was raising three young boys was shot and killed by police in St. Louis, Missouri. She is the eighteenth transgender person killed this year as of August 28, 2017. As of August 28, police have killed 189 black people in the US so far this year.
When the LGBTQ community created and showed up for a vigil for Kiwi Herring, a man drove his car into the crowd, hitting three people. The driver has been arrested but not yet charged with a hate crime. He was charged with resisting arrest, leaving the scene, and operating his Mercedes in a careless manner.
Fight This Hate
Attend protests and vigils anyway. #blacklivesmatter #transgenderlivesmatter
Support the ACLU, the SPLC, and your local Queer Center.
Sandra de Helen, author of the lesbian thriller Till Darkness Comes also pens the Shirley Combs/Dr. Mary Watson series. She is a poet, journalist, and a playwright. Her plays have been produced in the Philippines, Ireland and Canada, Chicago, New York City, and in thirteen states. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and the Dramatists Guild. Her books are available online, at Another Read Through Bookstore in Portland, Oregon, and Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego. Samples of her work are available on her website.