It is past time to clear up obvious misconceptions.
First, I am a Southern black man, yet I am not bitter nor do I hate anyone, and I am definitely not uncompromising. Make no mistake about it: I am unafraid, undiscriminating and unconcerned of personal verbal attacks. They come with the territory.
That said, let’s get to the misconceptions and misunderstandings. The South has many white folks who are proud of their Southern heritage but are not prejudiced, racist or biased. However, we don’t see eye-to-eye or agree. For instance, the Confederate flag in the past provoked fear and danger; now it engenders caution and uneasiness toward blacks and other minorities, and we don’t care for it. Period.
Sporting Confederate flags doesn’t always mean racial hatred. Here in Edgefield we have a situation where a white guy in his pickup truck branded with Stars and Bars flags rides around hugged up to his beautiful, dark, black girlfriend. No longer an oddity, they still get sneak-peeks and puzzling stares.
Clergy preach that we should love one another and accept stuff as long as it’s not at their homes or churches. Embracing your own kind and culture is endearing; repudiating others’ is not. White people, black people and all in-between must realize that we have one chance to get it right, and have lots of examples of getting it wrong. Racism eradication? Some call it fantasy; I call it the future.
There were no angels in the past, and none now. All races had roles in the tragedies of history and all have obligations for which to atone. Monuments and symbols embracing controversial figures of the past may disappear or be relegated to museums. Fortunately the dead don’t complain; unfortunately, the living complain too much. Civilization has a problem when more attention is given to dead than living. No resurrection is immediately forthcoming. To honor the dead, we should live better. Renaming and reclaiming lakes, roads, bridges and buildings are not acts of disrespect, but neither is wanting to retain them evident of prejudice.
Southern white folks are no worse or better than anybody else, and items and issues near and dear to them will disappear, too. In the end, we came from dust and to dust we shall return. In the meantime it is up to us to determine right and wrong, and enact changes. The future is unpredictable but the past is immutable
“We the people” must collectively do better. Worshipping statues, monuments and other relics is equivalent to idolatry. Inviting others to fellowship at your home or church is a good start. Adding to others increases your own value and dignity exponentially.