The aftermath of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va continues to rattle the heads of American citizens. It all started when city officials planned the removal of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s statue from what was formerly known as Lee Square but have since been renamed to Emancipation Park after a February 2017 vote. The statue was scheduled for removal this past Saturday (August 12th), however, pro-white activists showed up at the scene in an effort to halt its disappearance. A closer look at the specifics of the protest can be found here.
Aside from the actual protest, this particular incident gained steam because of The POTUS’s remarks made on Tuesday, August 15th (video credit to new york times).
Many people feel that The POTUS failed to condemn white supremacists, therefore mitigating their ties to responsibility for the protest’s results. Physical—one died while many others were injured—and racial tensions have inflated beyond measure. Within days of POTUS’s unclear and, for many people, offensive remarks, several other cities began the process of removing Confederate statues from their own cities. Baltimore is surely the hare in the race by removing all four of their Confederate statues overnight. Dallas has agreed to citywide discussions that will lead to the eventual removal of the statues and the relocation of other monuments. Lexington and New Orleans have also opened the lines to their removal conversations and the list continues nationwide.
Confederacy symbols are ornately historic, regardless of whether one is for or against them. However, the rifts begin to rise when two sides of one history clash, which is what happened in Charlottesville. While Confederate paraphernalia does represent the beginning stages of this country, it’s also indicative of an ugly side of our country that wanted slavery to continue. Slavery, an entire discussion on its own, is undoubtedly racist. By association, anything remotely similar or of relation to the Confederate flag—aesthetically, spiritually, intellectually, physically—is often thought to be racist by default because it represents and is related to such an ugly time for so many people. Guilty by reason of association is why many countries, such as Germany, have taken measures to properly put away, do away with or enshrine in a museum ideas and concepts associated with the wholesale attempt to wipe out or demoralize an entire ethnic group.
The physical removal of Confederate statues is an over due first step, in the minds of many, towards what could be argued as one of many reparations waiting to be reconciled since slavery. While the statues may no longer be visible, or visitable for that matter, the ideologies that they represent are still in the mindsets of a good number of people in this country. Sadly, that list could start with The POTUS himself.
As trendy as it seems to be these days to remove Confederate statues, the purpose of their eradication would be missed if constituents become satisfied with this one, small victory, many of which are still in the process and have yet to be completed. To truly uproot and dismantle guilty-by-association racism, and racism in general, is to require more heavy lifting than any machine uses while uprooting statues. There are racist principles birthed from the Confederacy that still stain the pay gap, promotion rate, access to healthcare, education, and food quality disparities that consistently put black people, marginalized people, and all people of color, at a disproportional disadvantage.
So, yes, eliminate Confederate statues from parks (which probably are funded by government dollars secured from tax payers and thus even yet another problem in itself) and where ever else they may be, but do not assume their disappearance somehow erases racism and racist acts with it. If anything, racism is on a rampage now because the tortured have become the takers—taking back power; taking back respect, and taking back everything that was used as torture under the confederacy.