Put Confederate monuments in their place

6/25/2020, 6 p.m.
Flying or displaying a Confederate flag outside of a museum is a tacit acceptance of the evil that it represents ...

Flying or displaying a Confederate flag outside of a museum is a tacit acceptance of the evil that it represents — slavery, Jim Crow, bigotry, racism, and death, not to mention treason.

I believe in the principles of free speech. Accordingly, I will defend someone’s right to own the flag and to display it, but I will not otherwise agree with them about it on any level. Unspeakable acts continue to be committed under the banner of that flag, not just in this country’s history, but every day, right now.

I was born and raised in Richmond, aka “The Cradle of the Confederacy.” I went to (Confederate Gen.) J.E.B. Stuart Elementary School. I spent my high school years living in Church Hill. My school bus during the week and my Mom’s car on the weekends had to drive past statue after statue of Confederate “heroes” on their horses. I regularly experienced us sharing the road with pickup trucks with the Confederate flag in the window just behind a rack of loaded shotguns. And yes, on at least one occasion, I actually heard someone utter the phrase “The South will rise again.”

Inequality and racism was visible and evident. I saw it meted out against family, friends, acquaintances and strangers. Thankfully, I was sheltered and well-educated by my family about civil rights, racism and other issues of social injustice. Many of the battles of the 1960s had been fought and won by the time I attended elementary, middle and high school in Richmond. Schools were integrated by then, by both students and teachers. I received an excellent public education and was taught by amazing teachers of many races.

Accordingly, I was somewhat prepared to deal with the subtle and not so subtle lingering vestiges of racism and inequality that came with living in a city where some folks valued the city’s Confederate legacy more highly than the lives, rights and well-being of its Black residents.

My adopted state of California doesn’t get a pass either. I was rather amazed the first time that I saw a Confederate flag in California — the first place, by the way, that I was called a “n....r” to my face, and where I am still, not infrequently, followed in stores by clerks and often notice women clutching their purses a little tighter in my presence. I contend that these types of microaggressions, as well as more overt and life-threatening aggressions, are born of this Confederate legacy.

I will shed no tears over the calls for account- ability for those who would flaunt their “God-given” legacy, whether it be a Confederate flag or monument. It’s about time that every vestige of this legacy be relegated to its proper place — a museum, a documentary or history book — rather than celebrated and thrown in our faces.

If I never see another Confederate flag or monument in my lifetime, it will not be too soon.


San Mateo, Calif.