Word has it that another white, male, middle aged politician has fucked up. I am definitely not wearing my surprised face, lets just say that much. I even have a hard time mustering up decent outrage over things like this, because they are so common and intrinsic to the system we live in. These sorts of bad decisions, perpetuations of racism/classism/sexism/ etc., oppressive maneuvers seem to me to be the obvious ends of the way our government and economy functions. I try not to be shocked, but rather, roll with the punches.
In this case, lets talk about how Virginia’s governor (not my governor, I don’t vote) issues a statement on the down-low Friday about re-declaring April Confederate History Month. FUCCCK THAT SHIT. As if we needed a month dedicated to such crap- considering that we already in Richmond are the home to a host of historical sights, statues along Monument avenue, and a giant museum about the Confederacy and the Civil War.
April had been proclaimed a month dedicated to remembering the civil war and confederacy and soldiers first in 1997. Then 2 Democratic governors refused to make that dedication. McDonnell brought it back. Commentators said it is a largely political move on his part to gain support from social conservatives in the state. Its all a game to these folks. My money has it that the next Democratic governor will make a point to NOT declare April a month dedicated to the Confederacy. However, this back and forth between the two faces of the same businesses and people doesn’t really have much of anything to do with racism in our state.
Institutionally of course, this sort of event/proclamation shows that white supremacy and racism are still approved by the powers that be. It is another way that things like white privilege are perpetuated from an institutional level. But even without McDonnell being such an obvious jackass, the state and the police would still behave in racist ways. Racial profiling will still be rampant. People of color will serve more time for the same crimes white people commit. Job opportunities will be different. People of color will get paid less for the same jobs white people do. The people in charge will still be mostly white. Etc. Whether or not April is declared on thing or another will not change the intense amount of racism still experienced every day by people of color.
One of the bonus insults from McDonnell is a complete failure to mention slavery or the (ongoing) civil rights struggle in his 7 paragraph declaration. Luckily folks from the NAACP, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus and other leaders and figures in the African American community in Virginia have already spoken up about what a major insult this is. The resistance to idiotic statements like this is the one good thing. Having an obvious issue or goal to struggle together around can help create new networking opportunities, bring folks together, and make for movements that can last beyond a single issue. This is good. We need more visible, more pro-active anti-racism actions in this world. The Civil Rights struggle really didn’t change but so much in our world and state. There is a LOT that still needs to happen.
Why does or should a state governor even have the power to declare months to be any sort of a memorial or celebration? Maybe the fact that any governor is allowed to make these sorts of decisions on their own should be pulled into question here. Nip the whole issue in the bud.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans are the group who has always asked the Governor in Virginia to make such declarations. They are also a group that has pretty consistently been wrapped up in instigating many of the controversies around the racist ways in which history in Virginia is being remembered. They constantly push for MORE about the civil war, more bout the confederacy, and do not like it when other stories are included in memorials (see mural along canal walk controversy).
The bottomline is that to talk about the Civil War and not about slavery is racist. And I do think it is valid to say that the Civil War was about a lot more than slavery. I think a lot of northern states really don’t think about their role in slavery, the slave trade, how they benefitted from the practice, etc. Racism is global, and definitely very active on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line.
The south will rise again. But not under the terms of racist, capitalist, sexist, classist, homophobic turds. I’m looking forward to the rising of the Queer Army, the Women’s Army, liberation struggles, anarchist communities, communities of resistance, more collectives, more co-ops, more CSAs, more sharing, more neighborhoods struggling, fighting back! We don’t need more bullshit dedicated the to Civil War. Lets talk about the future, and what to do about the current ways that folks are facing oppression, and how to fight back.
McDonnell is just another politician- don’t expect anything better from them, you will be disappointed.
If you are upset about this just take it as a reminder that we have to a) be conscious of white privilege and check that shit when possible, b) actively work against racism, c) support communities of color and their decisions, d) talk about race, talk about civil rights, talk about alternative histories and stories. We don’t need the governor or whoever, we can create pamphlets about courageous Civil Rights folks in Virginia and hand them out, host workshops to talk about the history of slavery, bring it up in conversation, research on our own, post fliers against racism, have parties celebrating black history, show documentaries about civil rights, teach our children better, fight the prison industrial complex etc. What some white douchebag says only holds but so much power. The real power is in our hands. Lets fucking use it.