Jim Crow context
Regarding “Duke University removes statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from Duke Chapel” (THS, Aug. 19)
I'm glad new Duke President Vincent Price choosing to preserve it.
These statues are an important reminder of our nation's history, if placed in context. They don't belong on chapels, they belong tucked behind a plaque describing that they were built in the era of Jim Crow to romanticize a racist and treasonous past that even the men the statues depict came to renounce. Good on him.
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Safety shoud not be black-white issue
I am an octogenarian, and Ivy League graduate whose doctorate was earned at UNC-CH. I have caught at colleges in North Carolina and Massachusetts. I write to express my strongest outrage at the ill-conceived recommendation by the Board of Governor’s Committee on Educational Planning, Policies and programs that targets the Centers for Civil Rights.
All my life I have experienced white racism at the institutional and solo levels. I have managed to mitigate challenges in housing, health, educational, social and most political areas.
However, recently when a UNC-CH connected clueless white boy came mere inches from killing me as he drove at about twice the speed limit in front of a school that serves a disproportionate number of black students, my appeal to use the Center for Civil Rights was disallowed because of ill-thought Board of Governors counter signals.
My contention is that it is institutionally racist not to provide in areas surrounding schools located in blacker communities or with blacker student bodies traffic-calming signs and devices equivalent to those in whiter communities or serving much whiter student bodies.
Anyone can visit the areas around Ephesus Church Elementary and the Phoenix Academy High School in Chapel Hill to note differences, despite my advocating for changes at both the local and state levels. The whiter Ephesus Church school has better traffic-calming than blacker Phoenix Academy High.
Theodore R. Parrish
Something truly gutsy
Now that eight people face charge charges in the toppling of the Confederate statute in Durham, I am curious as to what local government will do once these activists are convicted and ordered to pay restitution?
Will local government restore the statue? Will it do something truly gutsy, and replace it with a statue memorializing the victims of white supremacy? Will it put the funds towards social services in a city where thousands of families struggle under the disadvantages that are a sadly living legacy of the days when white supremacy was not merely tolerated, but legal and encouraged?
An ideal distraction
In his letter of August 18, my friend John Staddon argued from a false analogy. His comparison of the American Civil War and the English one of a century earlier ignored the crucial difference between their motives. Bitter as it was, Oliver Cromwell’s war against his king did not involve the question whether millions of people would continue to live as slaves who could be bought and sold at auction. Reconciling with that heritage is no easy proposition.
That said, I share Staddon’s regret about the monuments controversy, which has already provided Trump with a neat bit of political jiu-jitsu. Distracting the focus from a gang of thugs chanting “Jews will not replace us,” Trump and his acolytes now can, and I predict will, portray Democrats as the Party of Pulling Down Statues, not excluding that of our slave-owning first president. It is easy to foresee images of the Washington Monument being toppled, accompanied by voices (which will actually exist) demanding that we rename our national capital.
Whether each toppled monument equals an additional 20,000 votes for Trump remains for the next couple of elections to determine. Meanwhile, Trump’s party will quietly continue to shred the safety net (including health care), deny reproductive choice to females who cannot afford to fly to New York or Toronto, enact hug tax cuts for their super-rich sponsors, trash the environment, suppress the vote, and install extremely conservative judges to ratify these actions. The monuments issue is an ideal distraction.
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