You Want A Confederate Monument?

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Yesterday Trump tweeted – “I will veto the Defense Authorization Bill if the Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren (of all people) Amendment, which will lead to renaming (plus other bad things) of Fort Bragg, Fort Robert E Lee and many other military bases from which we won Two World Wars is in the Bill!”. Pocahontas of all people, other bad things? WTF! Appalling disregard for minorities, historical ignorance, calculated right wing campaign fodder – you decide, I’m speechless.

Last Sunday, editorial opinion by Caroline Randall Williams appeared in the New York Times. Amid Trumpish support for white nationalism, Trump outrage over NYC Mayor de Blasio planning to paint Black Lives Matter on 5th Avenue in front of Trump Tower (Trump tweeted – “de Blasio is going to paint a big, expensive, Black Lives Matter sign on Fifth Avenue, denigrating the luxury Avenue” ) and widespread initiatives to remove Confederate symbolism – Caroline Randall Williams penned perspective every American should read and take to heart. Quoted in part below, full article link after that.

“I have rape-colored skin. My light-brown-blackness is a living testament to the rules, the practices, the causes of the Old South.

If there are those who want to remember the legacy of the Confederacy, if they want monuments, well, then, my body is a monument. My skin is a monument.

Dead Confederates are honored all over this country — with cartoonish private statues, solemn public monuments and even in the names of United States Army bases. It fortifies and heartens me to witness the protests against this practice and the growing clamor from serious, nonpartisan public servants to redress it. But there are still those — like President Trump and the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell — who cannot understand the difference between rewriting and reframing the past. I say it is not a matter of “airbrushing” history, but of adding a new perspective.

I am a black, Southern woman, and of my immediate white male ancestors, all of them were rapists. My very existence is a relic of slavery and Jim Crow.

According to the rule of hypodescent (the social and legal practice of assigning a genetically mixed-race person to the race with less social power) I am the daughter of two black people, the granddaughter of four black people, the great-granddaughter of eight black people. Go back one more generation and it gets less straightforward, and more sinister. As far as family history has always told, and as modern DNA testing has allowed me to confirm, I am the descendant of black women who were domestic servants and white men who raped their help.

It is an extraordinary truth of my life that I am biologically more than half white, and yet I have no white people in my genealogy in living memory. No. Voluntary. Whiteness. I am more than half white, and none of it was consensual. White Southern men — my ancestors — took what they wanted from women they did not love, over whom they had extraordinary power, and then failed to claim their children.

What is a monument but a standing memory? An artifact to make tangible the truth of the past. My body and blood are a tangible truth of the South and its past. The black people I come from were owned by the white people I come from. The white people I come from fought and died for their Lost Cause. And I ask you now, who dares to tell me to celebrate them? Who dares to ask me to accept their mounted pedestals?

You cannot dismiss me as someone who doesn’t understand. You cannot say it wasn’t my family members who fought and died. My blackness does not put me on the other side of anything. It puts me squarely at the heart of the debate. I don’t just come from the South. I come from Confederates. I’ve got rebel-gray blue blood coursing my veins. My great-grandfather Will was raised with the knowledge that Edmund Pettus was his father. Pettus, the storied Confederate general, the grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, the man for whom Selma’s Bloody Sunday Bridge is named. So I am not an outsider who makes these demands. I am a great-great-granddaughter.” – Caroline Randall Williams

Confederate Monuments – Another Perspective

4 thoughts on “You Want A Confederate Monument?

  1. Sadly theory often smacks head-on against practise. “Every one is equal” and “we are all the same under the skin” sound good. But …

    In the end, people are just people, no?

    No—the difference is in their thinking.
    Their thinking is what separates people—skin colour is often nothing more than a convenient label.

  2. Brilliant piece.

    I am a black, Southern woman, and of my immediate white male ancestors, all of them were rapists.

    The so-called Coloureds of South Africa are are a product of the same.

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