And right here I’m referred to as to say that there’s a lot in regards to the South that’s valuable to me. I do my greatest educating and writing right here. There is, nevertheless, a peculiar mannequin of Southern delight that should now, in the end, be reckoned with.
This shouldn’t be an ignorant delight however a defiant one. It is a delight that claims, “Our history is rich, our causes are justified, our ancestors lie beyond reproach.” It is a pining for greatness, if you’ll, a want once more for a sure type of American reminiscence. A monument-worthy reminiscence.
But right here’s the factor: Our ancestors don’t deserve your unconditional delight. Yes, I’m happy with each one in every of my black ancestors who survived slavery. They earned that delight, by any respectable particular person’s reckoning. But I’m not happy with the white ancestors whom I do know, by advantage of my very existence, to be dangerous actors.
Among the apologists for the Southern trigger and for its monuments, there are those that dismiss the hardships of the previous. They think about a world of benevolent masters, and converse with misty eyes of gentility and honor and the land. They deny plantation rape, or clarify it away, or query the diploma of frequency with which it occurred.
To these folks it’s my privilege to say, I’m proof. I’m proof that no matter else the South may need been, or would possibly imagine itself to be, it was and is a house whose prosperity and sense of romance and nostalgia have been constructed upon the grievous exploitation of black life.
The dream model of the Old South by no means existed. Any manufactured monument to that point in that place tells half a fact at greatest. The concepts and beliefs it purports to honor are usually not actual. To those that have embraced these delusions: Now is the time to re-examine your place.
Either you’ve got been blind to a fact that my physique’s story forces you to see, otherwise you actually do imply to honor the oppressors on the expense of the oppressed, and you should eventually acknowledge your emotional funding in a legacy of hate.
Either method, I say the monuments of stone and metallic, the monuments of fabric and wooden, all of the man-made monuments, should come down. I defy any sentimental Southerner to defend our ancestors to me. I’m fairly actually manufactured from the explanations to strip them of their laurels.
Caroline Randall Williams (@caroranwill) is the writer of “Lucy Negro, Redux” and “Soul Food Love,” and a author in residence at Vanderbilt University.
The Times is dedicated to publishing a variety of letters to the editor. We’d like to listen to what you consider this or any of our articles. Here are some suggestions. And right here’s our e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow The New York Times Opinion part on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram.