Dismantling Damaging Legacies

In the last month, the removal of many monuments to Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, Christopher Columbus, Junipero Serra, and many more honoring confederate soldiers and women of the confederacy have been accelerated.

There are thousands more to go, and then we can worry about where to draw the line between who can be honored and which ones removed. Monuments and statues are created to honor those who are depicted, not to remember history. As John Oliver explained, when discussing Confederate symbols, we record history through books, museums, and Ken Burns’ mini series. He said, “Statues are how we glorify people.”

We need much more dismantling of damaging legacies. I hope we will get to a place where we can discuss them, but those conversations can’t happen just yet. Right now, let them come down.

Now, a harder dismantling needs to happen within each person. We have our own monuments inside, engraved with harmful and damaging legacies. We have made idols that we worship. Read Jared Yates Sexton’s Twitter thread below for evidence of some of the outrageous and damaging beliefs of white-identity evangelical fascism in the name of Christianity. Oh, God, save us from ourselves.

So we have issues to fix inside. I have my own personal harmful and damaging monuments hidden within me. I know they’re there. I am a sixty-something white woman who, after a rocky start, spent most of her life trying to be a “good” white person.  I was one of those ones who thought Obama’s election was a new chapter. It wasn’t until I saw the SNL sketch after trump was elected that it hit me. Chris Rock’s and Dave Chappelle’s characters were not surprised at all that trump was elected. The white people in the room were devastated. I finally had to admit that we were not the country I thought we had become. This was hundreds of years older than trump. How did it take me that long? It’s the blinding system of white supremacy that I and other white people with privilege have nurtured for 400+ years. The same system that Black people have fought against and endured for the same amount of time. It’s also my personal demons I’m blind too, and I know that I will continue to be convicted of my sin. Of that I am sure.

Me trying to be a good white person? What kind of molecule-in-the-bucket difference would that make? I’ve spent my life asking the wrong questions, centered on me. Now, I am listening, resisting injustice, disrupting racial bias, amplifying Black voices, studying history written by Black people, helping fund politicians who are committed to bringing justice, supporting Black lives and the Black Lives Matter movement. I am here to learn and have my personal monuments exposed and torn down.

Today is Wednesday, Day 120 in Bahrain’s stay-at-home time, day 85 of The Isolation Journals with Suleika Jaouad. Today’s prompt is from Sister Peace. Sister Peace asks us today: “What monuments do you carry inside you that are engraved with harmful beliefs or represent damaging legacies? What would it take to dismantle them? What could you put in their place that is loving, kind, joyful, and true?” I hope you will take 30 minutes to watch this interview with her.