Monuments to the Confederacy

There is a heated debate over the public presentation of confederate soldier monuments decorated throughout the southern region of the United States. A dozen have been taken down in the light of recent vocal public outrage, which has caused additional outrage in itself.  NBC sites the Southern Law Poverty Center stating that over 1,500 monuments to the confederacy still remain. And the upset on either side of the debate remains as well, since the pressure to either keep or to remove the monuments is the decision of the government. What is the argument of either of the outraged? That the monuments to the Confederacy are history. Well they both agree that the monuments are both symbolic and important. What is the debate then? One side assumes that the monuments are a history of a defense to the crimes against humanity and the treason that cost the lives of over 1.2 million men [and women] union and confederate soldiers. A war that ultimately devastated the economy of the South, which then influenced the history of ‘race’ relations with its freed population of black Americans there after. As to where the monuments should be relocated, the majority consensus say a museum, while others say they should be all destroyed and forgotten. The other side, seemingly the direct descendants of confederate soldiers as well, argue that the monuments are history and should be honored and should remain. The confederate soldiers should be honored for their valor, for the act of fighting in a war. I’ve noticed that those that argue this point are those that support soldiers no matter if the war that was fought was just or justified in its subject. Their offense is that a soldier’s duty has been taken for granted. As well, they ask ‘why now?’ They are asking well the monuments have been present for well over 50 years or more. Why now is the public outraged of their presence?

The argument between the two sides is agreed upon by myself as well. What are my thoughts on the debate rather? I will tell my opinion as a person of several influences. I am a black American, a descendant of black American slaves. I was born and raised in the rural South part of north Georgia. I grew up on a road that was part of the Callaway Plantation Farms, which still remain in name today. I grew up on the same roads as my mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and great-great grandmother who was most likely a slave. My rural town is connected to a historic district town called Washington, GA. In that town I remember my kindergarten school tour to the Callaway Plantation house. As well I remember my time walking about the center staring at the courthouse and the large tree that stood before it. The tree has since been taken down. I always noticed the large tree, however I never paid any attention to the confederate monument that stands before the courthouse. As my mom would drive around I would definitely see it. However I did not know to whom it honored or what it honors. I was never taught in school why it was there. As far as I know I was not concerned, no one was concerned about its presence. Now that I am observing an outrage about confederate monuments, as an adult, my feelings towards the monument of my hometown remains, honestly, unconcerned.

Again, I am a person of several influences and one of my influence is my great interest for, and my study of, history. I have recently graduated with my degree in history, specifically about western civilization. On my personal free time I will read more, watch more, discover about the history of the United States. As one of my southern history professors stated ‘I like history that is told in my backyard’. What I have been taught, and what I have learned on my own, is that the preservation of history is important. As well the preservation of a history torn and destroyed is important. There is a great importance, then, in the matter of people making historic decisions about their history regardless. The fact that a racist society decided to honor the Confederacy with monuments to the soldiers that had died in vain, is a historic decision. The more vocal outrage calling out the racial insensitive that is reminded with the presence of confederate monuments is now history. And if our government decides to take down all 1,500 or more monuments in light of outrage will be recorded in history. We will, indefinitely, be reminded that the American Civil War was fought and Confederacy had lost. We will forever be reminded that this was an important battle fought. This is what makes history interesting. As long as there is a record of an idea and of its existence, we will forever be reminded.

With or without the presence of the monuments, we still have descendants of the confederate soldiers that regard the valor highly. They honor their history with decorated confederate flags as shirts, hats, bras, bumper stickers for trucks. They will forever speak of ‘Southern Pride’ so long as they have children to continue their culture and beliefs. We will still have a segment of the U.S. population to remind us that the Confederacy mattered to millions of people. And that their voice and beliefs is why the monuments were erected in the first place. We are forever reminded.

Should the monuments stay, then? I am stating, as an opinion, to regardless of the decision made by local governments, the history remains and is reminded.

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On Authority: The Significance of One’s Word Over Another

Whenever we discuss the plight of the black community-the issues that plague black communities, and the youth not yet inspired-there is an echo chamber of a singular voice speaking for all. And here I ask, why? We are to assume that in opposition or in question of these thinkers, preachers, intellectuals is the black conservative. The discussion then is no different than the “arguments”  between Booker T. Washington and W.E.B Dubois, who were both speaking of two truths over one topic. As we are to understand, and to believe that, black thought on privilege, poverty, education, wealth, criminality, law enforcement, activism, etc. is a debate between the black democrat and the black conservative. However, where the black democrat is the only valid, and sensitive voice of authority on these subjects. Why? The black democrat blames the hardships on the government, on predominately white institutions, on the history of white privilege and the privilege of the white youth. And because some of them, perhaps many of them have lived these experiences. Whereas the black conservative blames the hardships on lack of self constraints, finanaical irresponsibility and the criminality of the black youth engaging in self destructive activities. And because some of them, perhaps many of them have lived these experiences. 

Where do I stand? I stand between them, telling that they are speaking of two truths on the same topic. Where no singular thought is weighted more than another. 

Though where is my authority? Whenever I give my unwarranted opinion on these matters, yet informed, I’m considered the black conservative. Where ever I call upon myself to offer an alternative viewpoint, my thoughts are told to be less valid as the white people agree with me. If I ever point out the blatant racism displayed by a black person who is assumed to have authority on the subject of racism and privilege, I am told “racism = power”. If I ever challenge the viewpoints of the accepted majority, the black democrats, I am the puppet controlled by whites who wish to keep black people complacent. 

Though who am I and where does my politics stand? Politically I am a moderate social liberal. As far as my education is concerned, I have always been interested in studying racism. Specifically,  all aspects dealing with American (North and South) slavery. As for subjects on education and crime, I call upon my personal experience and observations. For what I am not familiar with I call upon facts and verifiable sources, without the emotional appeal that is often praised in black thought. However, who am I? As in the minds of others? A person easily disregarded by the majority as the ‘lite’ black conservative. 

As I embark on my writing journey I will discuss the topics most concerning the modern black community. Most certainly my authority will be questioned and disregarded. Though I’m open to the challenge, because it is refreshing to read the thoughts of someone equally knowledgeable, yet different.