On Aug. 13, 2017, a group of white nationalists headed to Charlottesville, NC, to protest the removal of a Confederate statue. Marching out of America’s history of racist ideology with tiki torches and chants of “Jews will not replace us,” they expressed their outrage at a growing national move toward progress and equality.
While many would like to have believed that their tribe had shrunk into obscurity, it became evident that their voices were still being heard and were gathering at least some degree of momentum among like minded thinkers.
“There were good people on both sides,” said America’s president elected in 2016 by electoral votes, while losing by nearly 3 million popular votes to his nemesis Hillary Clinton. While many of us thought there was no way this openly proclaimed racist and non-experienced politician could stand a chance at the polls, we found ourselves sadly mistaken as many sought to embrace him, hate-filled warts and all, as their man to run the nation.
It was a wake-up call for those of us who may have dozed off following the two terms of America’s first Black president. It seemed we may have advanced and were moving the ball further down the field toward the goal of a post-racialized society.
We may have thought that we had a chance to keep hope alive following the murder of George Floyd, which gathered international attention followed by international protests by people of all skin colors. Perhaps, this time it might be different. Perhaps, this time people would get serious about the lingering shapeshifting reality of the demonic stronghold on American society of racism/white supremacy.
It seemed that people were finally opening their eyes and becoming WOKE to what was really going on just below the surface. Books, lectures, webinars, zoom meetings, and educational group gatherings all seemed to be very promising. Antiracism legislation was being considered, better training in policing, along with diversity training and recruiting, which even extended beyond the law enforcement arena, were all on the table.
It appeared that a more comprehensive educational system that would be more inclusive of the rich histories of people of color and teaching the truth about America’s racialized history might finally reach the public school curriculum.
But then the race-based pushback would not stay silent for long, and “WOKENESS” became demonized; racially comprehensive education was attacked under the allegations of teaching CRT and teaching victimhood to African American students while villainizing “white” students causing them to feel bad about themselves. But it was all a farce and a distraction to keep us from addressing the real issues.
It was this century’s continuation of the big game, racism/white supremacy by a different name and different packaging.
As the ball seemed to be moving toward the goal line, a frantic rush from the sidelines took to the field to prevent a touchdown.
While a diverse group of POC and their Anglo antiracism allies remained steadfast, many of those who had been standing silently on the sidelines had to make a choice. But there is always a filtering and falling away once things get tough; the silent crowd may find themselves drifting back to the sidelines of their comfort zones, seeking to be unnoticed and avoid the heat of the spotlight.
So, while the battle raged and the woke group sought to ride the momentum along with the start of getting rid of America’s white supremacy icons (which proliferated the American landscape), New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu delivered a stirring speech on why it was past time to move the nation forward and rid us of these divisive revisionist history markers.
Landrieu exposed the reason why these Confederate statues were cheaply mass-produced by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and why they were erected throughout the nation in the first place.
“These statues are not just stone and metal. They’re not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy, ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, ignoring the terror that it actually stood for, and after the Civil War, these monuments were part of that terrorism as much as burning a cross on someone’s lawn. They were erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in the shadows about who was still in charge in this city.”
In other words, to help keep the Negros in their place.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are over 700 Confederate statues spread across the country and approximately 1,500 symbols located in public places. A minimum of 138 of these statues have been removed between 2015 and 2019. More were brought down following the May 25th murder of George Floyd in 2020.
Founded in the 1890s, The United Daughters of the Confederacy raised money to mass produce these statues during the Jim Crow era, primarily between the 1890s and the 1950s. The greatest production was between 1900 and the 1920s, which included what has become known as, the “Red Summer” of 1919, where African Americans in three dozen cities across the country were targeted for white supremacy terrorism with at least 43 lynchings and 8 men being burned alive. No one was prosecuted for these crimes. This was followed by the Black Wall Street Tulsa, OK, massacre in 1921.
In the 1950s, a pushback evolved against the Civil Rights Movement. It was an intentional and strategic move as part of a unified effort toward a specific goal and objective. Southern pride was the banner it hid behind in an effort to whitewash history.
The blatant hypocrisy is that white nationalists gathered to protest their removal, claiming their history is being erased, all the while seeking to erase the history of POC.
Continued Landrieu, “This cult had one goal and one goal only: through monuments and through other means to rewrite history, to hide the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity… And yet, we still find so many excuses to not do the right thing. President Bush’s words, once again. ‘A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them.’”
By Tobias Houpe