It has been – and is – a blessing and a privilege to have known Dr. Reginald Hildebrand for 25 years. I thank him for his guest column about UNC’s Confederate monument: “UNC's Confederate monument is no joke” (CHN, nando.com/1um).
In addition to being a highly respected associate professor of African Studies and History at UNC, Dr. Hildebrand is a leader in our faith communities and the son and grandson of African American Episcopal Church pastors and bishops. I respect him and am grateful for his faith, integrity, leadership, knowledge, teaching gifts, wisdom,hospitality, humility, courage, respect and love for others.
I wish Dr. Hildebrand had been one of my teachers when I was a student in grade school in 1952-64, so that all of us could have been taught the truth of our shared history as children. Had we known and learned from Dr. Hildebrand growing up, we would all have hearts open to love, respect, trust, humility, mercy, justice and welcoming all others without rancor, mistrust or hate born of ignorance.
In his weekly letter to our parish, my priest and rector at The Chapel of the Cross, the Rev. Stephen Elkins-Williams, had this to say about Dr. Hildebrand and his article about the UNC Confederate monument:
“I was moved and impressed to find a thoughtful op-ed piece by my good friend, Reginald Hildebrand, contributing to the conversation about Confederate monuments. Reg is an associate professor of African Studies and History at UNC and a leading parishioner at St. Paul AME, our sister parish. When I first got to know Reg on our parishes’ joint mission trip to Costa Rica in 1997, I was impressed with his character, his dedication to others, and his clear and articulate line of thought. The intervening years have obviously only deepened those qualities in him and increased my appreciation for them and for him.”
I recommend Dr. Hildebrand’s column to you, your children, your grandchildren, and children and students everywhere, for the truth shall set us all free.
Re Reginald Hildebrand’s “UNC’s Confederate monument no joke” (CHN, nando.com/1um).
First, I am glad that “Silent Sam” will stand its ground a little longer. I was surprised to find this unexpected support among UNC faculty.
The author criticized recent vandalism targeting Silent Sam, but why? Because the sculpture can still be used as a convenient hostile symbol for the “students-activists and community leaders” protests. Not clear, who Mr. Hildebrand meant by the last, but in my humble opinion, the former should spend more time studying, e.g., World History where they could also learn about some ideologies destroying the past, instead of regularly marching around the campus looking what else to rename or remove. Anyway, I am glad that the proper use was finally found for “Silent Sam,” which can guarantee it being there at least for a while.
Second, I would like to thank Mr. Hildebrand for enriching my knowledge of local folklore citing the funny campus legend. Creating nicknames and humorous stories about monuments is not unusual, and they often have rather crude and politically incorrect content. For example, the monument to Dostoevsky by Moscow’s State Library, where the writer sits in a suffering-like pose got a name “After the Proctologist’s”; Moscow’s Karl Marx monument is called “Bearded Refrigerator”; Minsk National Library is “Death Star”; stelas-shaped monuments are often named “Dream of the Impotent,” and so on.
Big cities are especially rich in urban folklore, like Washington, D.C., toponyms: “Big Pencil,” “Soviet Safeway,” and “Liquorridor.” There is no reason to remind that the existence of this humorous oral folklore can be traced back to the Stone Age, and simply shows local population’s good mental health.
In his guest column, Sven Sonnenberg displays a poor understanding of the concept of “white privilege.” (CHN, nando.com/1z6)
This concept is not intended to make whites feel guilty (although, unfortunately, some people use it that way). Nor is it meant to suggest that all white folks have it easy while all black folks must struggle. It does not suggest that every white person is better off or deny that many whites have worked long and hard for their success.
The word “privilege” is unfortunate because it suggests a benefit that only white people have been given. That’s not true at all – white privilege is simply something that pervades our society; it’s basically being treated the way all people should be treated simply because of having white skin. It is no one’s fault, it is not something that we white folks planned or enjoy on purpose, and it is not something to feel guilty about. It simply is.
Some examples are minor, such as being able to easily buy a Band-Aid that matches my skin and to have free motel shampoo that suits my kind of hair. Others are much more serious. When I am called for jury duty I don’t worry about being disqualified because of my color, and if I am on trial for a crime I know that most or all of the jury will look like me. When stopped by police I am not concerned about being mistreated, and when walking on a city street I do not see people crossing over to avoid me. I am not followed by department store security, I know my business loan application will be handled fairly, and when house shopping I do not fret about the welcome I might receive in some neighborhoods. I can wear baggy pants and a hoodie and although people might think I am a doofus they will not assume I am a thug. No one thought that my position as a university professor was due to “special treatment,” it was assumed that I was qualified.
All of these are things we white folks take for granted, as well we should, but some of our fellow Americans cannot. This is white privilege, and while it’s nothing to feel guilty about, it is something to be aware of if we want a better and more just society.
On what planet Pt. 2
In commenting on my opinion article “Racial disparity in traffic stops,” Michael Hoppe says that to “to conclude that they (disparities between Blacks and Whites) don’t reflect racial discrimination seems to defy reality.”
On what planet is he living? Does he think that the disparities between blacks and whites in numbers of college and professional basketball and football players also reflect discrimination?
Elliot M. Cramer
Follow their lead
Re UNC dental school award set up in memory of slain Muslim students (N&O, nando.com/1zc)
Probably the families of these wonderful young people will never know the full extent of the impact their brief lives have already had on all sorts of people all over the world. In my town, Hillsborough, our local PORCH group not only feeds hungry families, as they did, but now we also supply toothbrushes and toothpaste, following their example. Food stamps don’t cover these luxuries, it turns out, so if it’s a question of diapers or toilet paper or soap versus toothbrushes, the dental supplies are always at the bottom of the list. We can’t take their place, but we can keep the work going.
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