America’s Whiteness in Charlottesville

Robert E. Lee statue Charlottesville, VA

Is anyone surprised about what happened at the White Nationalists rally in Charlottesville, Virginia?

I’m not. To me, and I suspect most of us, it has only really been a matter of when and where it would happen. Racism is at the core of American society, without a doubt.

People from all over the country representing White nationalists, neo Nazis and other White Supremacist factions came to protest the pending removal of the statue of Colonel Robert E. Lee that the Charlottesville city council had voted to get rid of earlier this year.

Lee was a West Point man who led the most successful branch of the Confederate army in northern Virginia during the Civil War from 1862 to 1865. President Abraham Lincoln recognized his warrior skills and wanted to appoint him to command the federal forces, but Lee refused.

He was “honored” with a 26-foot-high statue that has stood since 1924, but it is time for it to be removed because of what it represents. The time has come for the men who were pro slavery to come off their high horses.

These statues have particular significance in the southern states and symbolize the slave society of yesteryear, which still haunts America at every turn. The violence in Charlottesville is sad because it represents America, the old; it represents America with its stain and bloodshed of life lived in a racist society.

President 45 has given license to some white males who garner legitimacy from only their white skin, as the world becomes rainbow and digital. They are faced with modern day challenges where they might have difficulty in competing on a fair playing ground with the rainbow people.

When Trump says, he will “make America great again” it is racist code language. Are we going to fight the Civil War again? Taking down the Confederate monuments is about symbolism. We are fighting today over statues and what they stood for. It is America gone.

White Nationalist protestors

The Confederate Slavers
At last, many of the statues representing the Confederate, the slavers, the fathers of American racism, are finally being removed from their hallmarks after a century of being held high.

Does that mean that racism is over, or does it mean that racism is being recognized? Does it mean that these people are no longer being seen as heroes in contemporary society? Or does it mean they have served their time and their time has come and gone and they simply do not fit in a society where those called the “minority” are becoming the majority?

In today’s terms, because of their actions against their fellow Americans, the Confederates might be known as “terrorists.” Domestic terrorists.

For those who need a definition of “terrorism,” take a deep dive into American history and read about the 4,075 racial lynchings that took place in 12 southern states from 1877 to 1950, according to the Equal Justice Initiative. In these terrorist acts, Black men – and women and children – were tortured and victimized and no one was penalized for the crime on the very land where the Confederate statues stand.

The statues, with all of the glory to some that they represent, must come down all over America so that we can move forward.

And then you can look at another history that happened in Germany under the leadership of Adolf Hitler before and during World War II, where six million European Jews were systematically murdered in the Holocaust, also known as Shoah. These are historical “terrorist” acts, “domestic terrorist” acts, to be exact.

Why has it taken so long to remove symbols of American society that register negatively for the African American, whose people of the Confederate days have horror tales to tell? These stories, in addition to the lynchings, include rape, cutting off of limbs, and denial of rights in the land of the free and the brave where citizenship was denied simply because of skin color.

American racism presents an ugly picture no matter how you face it. The symbols represent slavery, ill treatment, beatings, denial of humanness, social ills of not being able to vote or attend school or marry, segregation, Jim Crow and Black Code Laws. Black folk reminiscence and try to forget the horror stories of history that are not forgotten, but definitely belong in another era.


The Presidency
So, along comes Barack Obama, the closest we have had to representing the fullness of all of the people in America. His rise through the body politic included the words that he said, that “we are not African Americans, or White Americans, or Irish Americans, or Italian Americans, but we are all Americans of the United States.”

Obama went on to say we are not a red state or a blue state, we are the United States. Those words ring like the forefathers’, but are not necessarily reflective of the real world. Obama’s presidency did not produce a post-racial society; instead he made race even more of an American issue for some.

Even though Barack’s personal ancestry does not represent the slave south – neither of his parents had slavery in their background – we act like it does because hate crimes in America are on the rise since President Obama’s eight-year tenure.

And now the political pendulum swings to the other extreme – an unorthodox man in the White House who speaks in code and vows that he “will make America great again.” The billionaire New Yorker, who speaks like the Godfather without censor, appeals to a white male that has a need to blame others. He speaks to the mind of the white nationalists who eagerly voted for him to be president, so that he can recognize the whiteness of white and restore to them the full privileges of skin color alone.

What does it mean when the President of the United States speaks to a hate crime, recognizing that there is “responsibility for all sides?” Does that mean that the slave people were responsible for their condition and social deficit that lives on even now?

It is a scary proposition when David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, says that a certain sector of white males will hold him responsible and accountable because they voted for him. It is damn scary to look at TV and see the new Klan dressed in military attire with guns as they protest.

While they have the right to protest and the freedom of expression, they don’t have the right to kill or attack; this is remindful of burning crosses on lawns because a Black went against the grain of whiteness. This is remindful of Nazi soldiers saluting, Heil Hitler.

Ms. Daisy Can Call Uber
The country has really changed as “minorities,” that is, people of all color, approach dominating the American landscape. This is scary to some who hold to the theory of White Supremacy, which is an American fable in the first place.

Laws, politics and economics have supported white privilege. But as the world changes, so does the reality that President Trump, the out-of-the-box President, the first twittering Oval Office occupant, must stand strong and tall on this issue.

Trump recently stated that he would be the greatest president since Abraham Lincoln. He’d better get a move on, then; this is his time to act and do the right thing. America is a long way from the day of Lincoln and as the world turns it moves forward, not backwards. Because Black Lives do Matter, all American lives matter – but there is no more driving Ms. Daisy. She can call Uber.

Trump is currently facing the prospects of treason as he confronts an American Civil War: Part Two, and possible total world destruction and human annihilation as he deals with North Korea’s nuclear missiles.

It is bigger than us all, but racism with privilege because of white skin alone is over in America. The statues, with all of the glory to some that they represent, must come down all over America so that we can move forward with the real intent of what the forefathers penned in documents like the Declaration of Independence.

Hermene Hartman

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