Keep your damn Confederate statues. No statue ever called me “n—-r.”
Let stand the monuments, busts and assorted stone carvings that stir memories of the historic American hate that enslaved my people on sun-baked southern plantations in chains of evil’s manifestation.
For no inanimate statue of stone ever maimed or castrated us. Never lynched a black man. Didn’t kill Emmett Till.
No statue ever posed for photos while standing next to a dangling black body. Smiled giddily next to our charred and mutilated corpses. Or treasured postcards mailed to family and friends.
No marble memorial ever treated me less than a man. Never cut off our feet or whipped our backs bloody raw with unrepentant hands.
Never stole our mothers and daughters — raped them, impregnated, violated, desecrated. No statue ever hated.
What statue created the inhumane horrors — from American slavery’s inception through our so-called emancipation to Jim Crow segregation, to our civil rights dream and freedom’s declaration?
What Confederacy statue created urban ghettos, kept blacks and browns at bay from the American mainstream to languish in the American drained stream with discriminatory policies in lending, learning and government spending? Who kept the public educational system, even after all these years, still separate and unequal?
What statue ever hurled stale spit and phlegm in the faces of the “young, gifted and black” who sought to integrate public schools, or simply to sit at a counter and be served food?
The Confederacy did not choke Eric Garner to death. Hate did.
A statue did not shoot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times. A white cop did. Laquan wasn’t a monster. Just a broken American kid.
And who beat Rodney King?
Who shot Dr. King?
Which of the collective mountain of current memorials and statues erected in honor of the heroes of the Confederacy can be blamed for why freedom for African Americans still does not fully ring?
What statue could ever administer hate so mean as that rendered by human hands against the Jew, Blacks or Native Americans — by Holocaust, The Maafa or the Trail of Tears?
In Charlottesville recently, did the statues of Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson suddenly come to life and appear — riding on chants of racism and bigotry?
Why have these public proclamations of hate arisen with such bold, uncloaked audacity under this presidency?
Amid them, I also hear the call of well-intentioned and good citizens to quash symbols of the Confederacy embraced by neo-Nazism and white supremacy. Except I know that this ignores the elephant in the room. That if every Confederate statue or memorial suddenly were removed, it would not change history or this rising and familiar hateful tune.
The statues are easy targets — scapegoats for American hypocrisy. A red herring for that still unresolved great American question: the color line (raised by W.E.B. DuBois.) And yet, after all these years, hate is still a matter of human choice.
Therefore, to focus on symbols of stone, fabric or marble, belies the real issue of the heart. For obliterating them will not unite us as one America, as one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
So let them stand. Lest we forget.
Let them stand as reminders of which side won the war. That once upon a time in America freedom defeated slavery, unity conquered division, and the American dream withstood the test called hate.
Let the chants of the unmasked tiki torch-toting bigots remind us that hate is at the root of America’s original sin. And that our greatest challenge lies not with statues but deep within the stony hearts of men.
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