Throughout the course and over the last couple of weeks, we’ve talked about the price that was paid for some to become white, who tells history, how they tell it and why, and who has to do the work to redeem this country. I’ve also been thinking about Rae’Vonne’s post regarding confederate statues and symbols and how those ties in the fabric of what is America. In On Being ‘White’ and Other Lies,” Baldwin states: ” America became white—the people who, as they claim, “settled” the country became white—because of the necessity of denying the Black presence and justifying the Black subjugation.” He continues to assert that the white community is built on a “genocidal” lie. People became white through many crimes against humanity, against Black people. This brings me back to Rae’Vonne’s blog post about the statues. So much brutality has broken out over the past couple of years over symbols and uses of American history. Baldwin did talk about this desire that those who identify with the history of the confederacy, be it because they’re actually racist or (what is the other option? a love of history?), wanting to protect this inhumane foundation at all costs. Why? Because the history of this country is seen as inseparable from the statues and monuments today.
In 2010, a self-proclaimed Neo-Nazi floored his car into a group of protesters in Virginia. Many people were injured and a woman, Heather Heyer, was killed. The protesters were gathered to battle against America’s racist history. In that town, there are still statues of Robert E. Lee and Thomas Jackson. Some people want those statues and those like them to be torn down, while others, who proudly call themselves neo-nazis or nationalists, see it as a representation of their understanding of America where white people are superior. Some, who have rejected these two groups still want the statues because they claim it reminds the country of brilliant military leadership. There will always be, it seems disagreements on the story that is told. In “No Name in the Street,” Baldwin said, “One may see that the history, which is now indivisible from oneself, has been full of errors and excesses; but this is not the same thing as seeing that, for millions of people, this history . . . has been nothing but an intolerable yoke, a stinking prison, a shrieking grave.” If White people and those with power in this country continue to accept this genocidal lie, then no one else can effectively reject it or move forward in true progress. So how do we move forward? I’m not sure, but the way I see it, one of the crucial steps is to educate and teach every facet of history to our children and ourselves.