Race, Social Justice

Hey America, the Confederates lost the war. It’s time to start celebrating the right people.

The Confederates lost the war - and still, America glorifies its leading historical racists.

Harriet Tubman is finally recognized in Baltimore – and America clings to racism instead

Recently, a Confederate site in Baltimore called Wyman Park Dell, has been rededicated to honor Harriet Tubman. The Confederate statues of both Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee were removed, and the park has now been renamed Harriet Tubman Grove in honor of the 105th anniversary of her death. 

What ensued feels like déjà vu.

It was a little over a year ago when the horror of Charlottesville occurred. We saw the clash of racist neo-nazis and protesters fighting for equality in America; this event would become a pivotal one for our current political and racial divide in America. The whole debacle started because neo-nazis were angry over the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, the infamous Confederate soldier, from Emancipation Park. It didn’t make sense for a person fighting against the emancipation of slaves to be honored in a park about emancipation (but maybe that’s just me).

The parallels between this event and Charlottesville are creepy, to say the least. A common denominator? Riots. Don’t forget – Baltimore experienced massive riots in 2015 as a result of police brutality and the wrongful homicide of Freddie Gray.

The rededication of Harriet Tubman Grove has once again sparked conversations about the removal of Confederate monuments around the U.S. (the South in particular). Personally, I’m very excited to see these statues taken down, and people on the right side of history finally getting the honor they deserve. It’s completely ludicrous that these monuments even existed. The Confederates lost the war – and still, America has the audacity to glorify them and claim that racism no longer exists. If you think about it logically, it doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense.

confused tituss burgess GIF by The Late Late Show with James Corden
[Image description: Man jumps back in confusion and shock]
Psychology today explains how symbols affect the subconscious. Powerful symbols (like the statue of a racist!) “[can] convey a complete thought, concept, or ideal without the use of words to describe it.” So basically, no matter how many words people may say to deny it, these symbols that carry a history of racism are conveying the message that they are still perpetuating the same dangerous message of subservience. 

The neo-nazis don’t really care about this, however, and despite their hateful rhetoric, we need to continue to knock down these symbols. When you compare America and the horrors of slavery to Germany and the holocaust – both horrible stains on each countries reputation – Germany has handled things a lot differently than the U.S. They destroyed all symbols of the Nazis. There are no monuments to Hitler or his most famous and ruthless generals because Germany is actually sorry for what it did and wants to atone for its egregious mistakes.

America, on the other hand, is proving that it isn’t sorry for what it did to black people and continues to deny and try to erase its past. When has covering up the truth ever bode well in history? Literally never. If America had handled this right the first time, we could’ve avoided the constant tantrums of people who worry about the “erasure of American history.”  

What was done to slaves and what is continuing to be done to African Americans will never be forgotten, but knocking down these monuments is the first step in apologizing for those mistakes. And there’s something just so sweet and satisfying about black people being honored and standing on the earth that a racist was knocked down from.