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Confederate Insensitivity

Racism skeptic? Look no further than the public square. As a culture, we engage in public messaging. That messaging largely occurs in what is referred to as 'the public square'. The public square is a place of honor. Our civic life revolves around it. It is the place where people can freely speak and associate. It is a place for sending messages to the broader community. The placement of a statue in your honor there is the highest honor of a community. But, we have some problematic statuary in some of our public squares. Some that has been placed there to send messages about who and what we value and commemorate as communities. For some, the choices that have been made speak loud and clear about the community and its pervasive attitudes and it isn't pretty.

We have long overlooked the offense of the cultural honor bestowed upon Confederate Generals and other leaders of the Confederacy. Make no mistake, many of these statues were erected to send a message to freed slaves and black community members ... despite defeat of the South in the Civil War and the dismantling of American slavery. They aren't just historical artifacts. They are messages that for too long have had a voice that terrorizes and offends black members of our communities. I suspect they are the types of public messages that empowered that group of white men I witnessed order a group of black college aged men off the sidewalk on Tybee Island, Georgia during spring break my freshman year in college (1982).

We need to be better curators of our cultural messaging. The statues should be moved to museums ... so that we never forget. They are part of history. But, we need to go on the record that those messages are historical and have no current place of honor in the public square so that the racial divide can heal and we can live as one America.


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