There was a lot of speeches in Montgomery on Monday. Talking about freedom and life and freedom. Talking about the future. Talking about justice and a better future.
And apparently every speaker delivering these speeches — from Gov. Kay Ivey to the warm-up acts at Monday’s dedication ceremonies — wanted to make sure everyone knew they were talking about ALL Alabamaans. All.
What I assume includes Black Alabamians. Actually, cross that out. I don’t “accept” that. I know it’s true because I know a number of people who have given these speeches and I don’t think any of them – as I disagree on many issues – are racists.
They would not intentionally exclude or discriminate against anyone because of their skin color. They would look you in the eyes and tell you that they love all people. That they want equality and justice for all.
But all too often, some of these people encounter…let’s call them racial inconveniences.
Small moments of doing the morally right things — tearing down Confederate statues, or standing up for black citizens wronged by our justice system, or choosing not to spit out the anti-CRT talking points, or choosing not to Not putting Gerrymander on a racial basis – are not politically beneficial. And in those moments, far too often, too many people have taken the path of least resistance.
They bow to the white supremacy that has ruled this state for centuries. Usually not in a big way. Just small concessions here and there — concessions that Alabama consistently outperforms on social justice issues.
When you then point out these problems and the underlying causes, the claim that the people responsible for Alabama’s racial deficiencies are actually responsible for Alabama’s racial deficiencies becomes very insulting. Because they are not racists, they proclaim. Because they don’t want to be racists. They don’t want to be seen as racists. Almost all genuinely believe that they are not racists.
And to be perfectly fair to them, they are not the same as the blatant racists of the past. They don’t want black citizens drinking from a different water source or being subjected to racial slurs. But at the same time, we’re not exactly on a speeding train bound for the racial utopia they supposedly want for Alabama.
Because if that utopia really was the goal — and Alabama really has moved on from its racist past, at least from a leadership perspective — then why were all these speeches delivered on a day when Alabama decided to support both Martin Luther King Jr … and Robert E. Lee?
Why does such a racist abomination still exist here?
Because that’s what it is – a racist abomination. There is no other viable explanation and don’t waste your paperwork proving otherwise.
There’s no reason for Alabama to honor Lee. Zero.
He’s not local, has never actually spent time here, and has done nothing to benefit Alabama in any way.
So why do we honor him? While you may overlook his documented racism and mistreatment of the people he “owned,” the absolute best thing you can say about him is that he excelled in the war. The same is true of many people — many people far, much more deserving of that honor, and perhaps even a few with ties to this state — and we do not honor them.
So why this particular general who isn’t from Alabama? Why is he sharing a vacation with a black national hero who gave his life for equality and justice and the very promises made by our ancestors?
You know why.
It’s racism. That’s why it started and that’s why it continues.
You can pretend to do something else, but doing so is one of those racist inconveniences I talked about before. The fact of the matter is that there are only two reasons not to shy away from this embarrassment: 1. You are a racist, or 2. You covet the votes and favors of racists.
There is no third option.
So what’s it going to be, Alabama politicians? do you mean what you say Do you really want a future Alabama that is fair to all, with equality and color-blind justice? Do you want to make sure the rest of the country, including so many companies looking to relocate, stops thinking of Alabama as the same old racist state it once was?
Let this be the first step. According to Rep. Chris England, legislation will again be introduced in the 2023 session to abolish this shared holiday and no longer honor Lee.
support it Adopt it unanimously. Leave no doubt.
Take the smallest steps to create the beautiful Alabama you say you want.