Don’t ‘white-wash’ history
Regarding “Misguided rage against history” (DN, July 12)
Bob Wilson bemoans the defacement of Confederate memorials as “raging against history,” while he himself evades the monuments’ full historical context. These memorials were often put in place between 1890 and 1920, a period when civil rights were systematically rolled back by Jim Crow legislation and racist norms to reestablish segregation and white supremacy. To insist that these memorials were only about honoring the heroic dead is either historically naïve or intentionally amnestic. They can also be seen as having exploited the memory of the fallen to promote the resurgence of white dominance, part of a political-cultural process that at its most extreme also used violent intimidation, torture and public lynching. From that perspective, these statues are even less defensible than they appear.
However, I think that it would be a mistake to remove them. I do not believe in “white-washing” history. We endanger our values if we do not honestly face up to our past. Instead, I suggest that beside each Confederate monument we place one of equal size that memorializes individuals or groups that have fought against the legacy of slavery and racism, giving that historical perspective its own space and due consideration. There would be many candidates worthy of consideration and it would be a useful public debate to decide who or what we would like to stand as counterpoint, to represent the values of our current community, when it is looked back on 100 or 150 years from now.
James W. Finch
A broken nation
The horrific act committed by Dylan Roof on the minister and congregation of one of the oldest churches in the state of South Carolina was devastating.
We as a nation are broken. We are very proud of our men and women who commit, train and go in harm’s way for this country; and also fight for the rights and safety of oppressed people. We have many things to be proud of in this country, with representatives in the field of medicine, athletics, military, education and so much more.
In all the things we have to be proud of it is time we take a look inward at violence, addiction, and murder. We should take an honest look at the declining state of our families, communities, states and country. Those of us who have not been touched do not have the luxury of ignoring this because we never know when we might get that visit from authorities to confirm the identity of a loved one that is no longer here.
What happened in Charleston should have been a wake up call for all of us; especially Christians.
If we are to have any chance at all to make our world better we have to get involved by uniting, sharing ideas, caring for each other and supporting one another. We need strong committed people who care about us and the predicament we are in at this time. It is wonderful to help bring relief to an oppressed country, but we at home are in need of relief. We are broken, and if nothing is done we will get worse.
I suggest that we petition whichever higher power that we believe in for the strength, wisdom, power and guidance to be successful in turning our situation around.
Race, class and police
Through the language of animation, “I, Destini” explores the poignant and imaginative illustration of a youth’s perspective on the effects of having an incarcerated loved one.
At 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 28, Liberty and Justice for Carlos Riley Jr., DoinDURM, and the John Hope Franklin Center at Duke University will be presenting this short film at the Hayti Heritage Center in Durham. The night will bring focus to the discussion surrounding racial profiling and the prison industrial complex through creative performances, the screening of “I, Destini” and a diverse panel discussion aimed at the broader frameworks of race, class and police brutality.
On a cold December morning in 2012, Carlos Riley Jr. was stopped by a police officer. As a young black man, Carlos Jr. is part of an ever growing statistic in America. He sits now in prison facing 10 years on federal charges, waiting for the state verdict. On that early morning, an unarmed Carlos Jr. was stopped by an officer wearing civilian clothes and driving an unmarked car. Police say Riley shot the officer during the stop. Riley’s supporters say the officer accidentally shot himself, and that the stop was an unwarranted case of racial profiling. He turned himself over to the Durham Police Department within hours of these events.
“Every person put in prison comes from a family, but you never think of this when you see young people arrested on TV,” explains Destini Riley in “I, Destini.”
As a bright and creative teenager struggling to balance adolescent hood with the pressures of having a brother incarcerated, Nicholas Pilarski, a documentary media artist, worked collaboratively with Destini and her family to bring Destini’s imagination to life in the form of animation. Developed through a series of creative workshops, the project was driven by process, forming a space where ideas could be shared freely. Through such workshops Destini ultimately co-created every aspect of the film from concept to production.
Please join us in sharing I, Destini and for an evening of art and discussion with special guests including Boots Riley, lead vocalist of The Coup.
Please send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. All submissions may be edited for space and clarity. Thnk you.