By Mildred Robertson
Charlottesville is the site of an open wound. It is a festering sore that has plagued our nation since the first slave ship arrived on our shores in 1619. Let us put into perspective the origin of this wound enflamed by the KKK, Alt-Right, Neo-Nazi march that exploded into violence on August 13, 2017.
The confederate monument they assembled to protect is symbolic of an ugly time in our history that has been rewritten to reflect a genteel past. You see, America’s passion for bygone days when slaves purportedly frolicked with glee on the plantations of their slave masters is in direct contrast to the reality of the past. This storied past which Southerners and many others throughout this nation cherish is no more than a lie to cover the true nature of not just slavery, but the people that perpetrated it.
Slavery and the slave masters were harsh, hateful, inhumane, cruel, cold-hearted, cold-blooded, callous and uncaring. Slaves were tortured, mutilated, starved, denied adequate shelter and clothing, raped, murdered and had children ripped from the arms of loving mothers and fathers, had fathers torn from their families…all in order to make a profit. It is irrelevant whether the slave-master’s name is Robert E. Lee or Thomas Jefferson. There is no such thing as a benevolent slave-master.
The vicious treatment of American slaves would be good fodder for a Stephen King movie…except that these acts are not fiction. They are historical outrageously cruel acts endured by the ancestors of almost every African American in this nation. And it did not just dehumanize the slave, but also the slave-master.
So as an American…a descendant of slaves…I was refreshed and uplifted to see white Americans, many of whom I assume could chart their lineage back to a slave master, stand and say, “I wish to be freed from the depravity of my ancestors’ legacy.” Charlottesville’s decision to take down the monument was an acknowledgement of the wrong it represents and the hurt endured by every minority who views it. It was an acknowledgement that the history of the South’s secession was nothing to be glorified—that it was traitorous; that it was unjust; and that it was ultimately defeated.
Yet the President of the United States chose to embrace the lie rather than the historical truth. He became the Apologist-In-Chief for racists. He embraced his own personal depravity and his family’s legacy of hate and put it on international display. He equated those who stood against hatred and intolerance as equal to those who would tear down our democracy, discriminate against American citizens, and wreak violence and havoc within our communities. He further encouraged and gave the racists permission to rise up, move forward and continue to spread hatred and discord in our country.
It is now up to our nation’s leaders to wrest the reins of power from this man who will clearly go down in the annals of history alongside individuals such as Adolf Hitler. It is up to our leadership, whether Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, to ensure that we do not go down the path taken by Germany and many other nations who acquiesced power to dictators and madmen.
Our future depends on it.