A name, a title, I personally identify with.
I am born and raised in North Carolina, I proudly announce my southern roots. I humbly acknowledge I talk too slow for northerners and me smiling at them in the supermarket makes them uncomfortable. I accept and detest, our overabundance of bugs and rodents. Yes, in the south we have police escorts for funeral processions and if you’re in a rush on a Sunday you’ll be highly disappointed at our driving speeds. I’ve milked a cow, I’ve chased a chicken, I’ve played on haystacks and I’ve sucked on honeysuckles. I am a southerner and I love the south.
Our food is the tastiest and our roads are the curviest. Our hospitality is legendary and so is our sweet tea. Despite my love of the south, I have a hatred for symbols of oppression.
During the years, I’ve remained silent on the removal of Confederate soldiers and flags from government buildings. My silence has been for personal and professional reasons, but a recent protest has urged me to end my silence. I am a fair person. I believe before people pass judgment they should fully research and consider all sides of an argument before drawing a verdict. This issue is no different.
As a person of color, these statues and flags represent oppression, enslavement, and genocide.
When I see the Confederate flag waving boldly and proudly alongside the American flag, the message of acceptance rings loud.
This flag does not represent history to all southerners, for me, it represents the slaying of my ancestors forced to fight in a war they did not believe in.
The Pittsboro, North Carolina Courthouse is home to a Confederate statue. Last year this statue was subject of two small protests, one group in favor of the removal of the statue and another who opposed. The Chatham County rumor mill was well oiled and the former Mayor of Pittsboro even mentioned it may be time for a change. As of May 2018, the statue remains and so does the discontent of a large number of citizens in this community.
17 miles north, Maya Little a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, protest the Confederate statue of Silent Sam. Despite faculty members, community members and students pleading for the statue’s removal, the University continues to house a statue that offends this diverse community. In protest, Ms. Little paints the statue red, causing the sculpture to have a “bloody” base.
It is Ms. Little’s words, from The Daily Tar Heel, that encouraged me to end my silence on this issue.
“It affects me, and it affects a lot of people I know, and it affects my community.” In agreeance to Ms. Little ‘s statement, these statues affect our communities. There are some citizens that look to these statues with pride and solely think of how valiantly their ancestors fought for a cause they believed in, in our country’s most famous war. I encourage those members to look to their fellow Americans, not in the abstract but closer. Look to their coworkers, their church members, their favorite barista, their favorite bank teller, whomever, and realize our shared history does not contain a shared perspective.
I am not advocating the removing of Confederate statues entirely, I am advocating the sculptures be placed in museums and historical societies. Not in government buildings, not in university quads, not in public areas that create division amongst citizens.
United we stand, divided we fall.