Perspective is needed
Everyone admires the stalwart. But for the diehard, the crowd does something different; they roll their eyes. Some perspective is needed.
Exasperation continues today with the extralegal toppling of statues like the one of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol, England. But not in Winston-Salem. The people here sought counsel in a civilized way and heard the points of all, and with deliberation thought to relocate the Confederate statue — likely to have been a draftee, not having the $500 to buy his way out of armed service. Few places can match our practice.
Apparently, that’s not good enough for the inflexible, with yet a new lawsuit contesting the decision (“UDC files new lawsuit over statue,” June 22).
More perspective is needed.
The Piedmont was virtually unique in the South in anti-slavery sentiment. There were more than 50 anti-slavery societies in the area in the 1820s, including two in Forsyth County. Almost 1,000 area land owners signed a petition to Congress in 1819 to abolish slavery. Joseph Winston was one of them. Our city is one of a very few anywhere named for an anti-slavery advocate. Our other name means “peace,” and we are its exemplars.
The Confederate statue stood almost 110 years. How about we place a statue of Joseph Winston where the Confederate statue was and let it announce from 2020 to 2130 what we stand for now? Then the citizenry can decide what to put there for the succeeding 110 years. After all, fair’s fair, isn’t it?
My white privilege
This is my white privilege:
I am a single working mother of five who, at times, lives paycheck to paycheck. My past is checkered with missteps and mistakes. Scholarships helped me get a great education.
I live in a mixed-race neighborhood by choice. My kids play outside. Our house is loud and active. My son’s truck makes an enormous amount of noise every time he drives down the street. My teenage daughters run daily. I have political signs in my yard, draw with chalk on my property and play loud music.
No one has ever asked me if I “belong” in my neighborhood. No one has ever accused me of destroying someone else’s property or disturbing the peace. I do not fear that my son will get pulled over for being in the “wrong neighborhood,” I do not fear my daughters will be shot as they run or worry that people will question or attack me for “not belonging” in a neighborhood filled with people who do not necessarily look the same as my family.
I do not face these fears because of my good character or values. I do not have these fears simply because people see me as white. I am fully aware that if I chose a different neighborhood and had darker skin than my neighbors I would not have had the privilege to live and raise my children without fear. This is white privilege and it has nothing to do with money, status or education.
Quickly, before I read further in today’s Journal, let me thank Bob Orr for articulating how Black Lives Matter is a crucial movement in this present moment (“Missing the point of ‘Black Lives Matter,’” June 28).
He presented historical evidence of how black lives have been of no account, as my grandmother might have said, for four centuries. This history, he points out, has long been conveniently forgotten or ignored by those who write books of history and those who teach it. I know this to be true from my own experience studying history in the 1960s, and teaching American and North Carolina history to middle schoolers.
It is clear now that there is nothing benign about such a failure. Ignorance has led to far too much violence, both physical and verbal. Enough is far too much.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for Richard Groves. The clarity of his thinking and his ability to articulate his thoughts deserve a statue! I always enjoy reading his column, but “The night they drove old Dixie down” (June 28) was the prompt for this letter. The sentence “Statues are not about preserving history” and those that follow crystallize the argument against keeping these monuments to man’s inhumanity to man in the public square.
Let the statues be removed as the one in front of the courthouse in Winston-Salem was removed, without violence. Let them be preserved as works of art in museums as part of our history, warts and all. Let us, as Groves suggests, honor those who do the right thing and who move us forward toward a better nation.