And, of course, slavery. The economy was built on slaves — about a third of the population lived without freedom (not that they were considered people, of course). It was a country whose founding ideals consisted of a systematic abuse of human rights, subjecting people into the worst lives imaginable just so the rich could get richer.
I enjoyed reading your article because it came from a different perspective. It allowed me to step in your shoes, and people like you, who were raised to view the Confederacy with rose-colored-glasses. I admire the fact that you didn’t not let this programming control your perception of American history.
I am a black woman and I was born in New Orleans. I went to public school and the only field trips we ever took were to the zoo or local museums. Raised as a little black girl, I was always afraid of the Plantation tours. It always made me think of the dead bodies of slaves, being buried there, working to death there, the blood of generations of my people. There was an undercurrent of disgust when the topic would be talked about as some people planned weddings there are traveled to Louisiana just to see it. I thought if you went there, they may keep you. As a child, fear had been implemented in me.
In my eighth-grade history textbook, there was only one paragraph about slavery. It said that slaves were responsible for helping to build America and that they made cotton in the south, and that they were freed after the civil war. So I always thought of Confederates as inherently greedy, dangerous, treasonous men who could destroy the very fabric of our country.
I also had false narratives in my mind. Mine were about Northerners. It took me a long time to realize that people in the North were also racist. For so long I only thought of racism as something you could see, experience, or feel. Now, I understand the systematic nature of it and how it can creep into schools, businesses, and neighbor’s homes.
When I see confederate monuments I never looked then in the face. I couldn’t tell you if General Lee in our Lee Circle was wearing a jacket or a t shirt. However, now that its gone I feel like I can look up, with my head held a little higher. It makes me want to cry thinking about it. What I fear now is that we go back, that people will defend these monuments and what they stood for, and that my very humanity will be compromised.