Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Should Anyone Celerbate the 150 Year Anniversary of the Civil War?

Riverbend - Civil War Reenactmentphoto © 2006 Alvin Trusty | more info (via: Wylio)

One hundred and fifty years ago today, the civil war began.  I am sure civil war re-enacters took the day off to celebrate.  There is much romanticism of this time, and this ignores what a horrific period in history this was for POC.  What exactly was wonderful about slavery and the destruction of aboriginal cultures? Why the need for White people to constantly re-live these years?  Oh, I have heard the supposed excuses of wanting to celebrate culture, but when your culture is comprised of brutality, rape, numerous acts of violence, and the enslavement and animalization of people of colour, you would think that this would be something to be ashamed of, not celebrate.

I have heard this war referred to as the war of northern aggression.  There are even those who seek to deny that it was about slavery and still use the triggering term states rights.  Uh huh, anything but admitting the horror that it actually was.  A celebration of this time is nothing but an attempt to glorify Whiteness, and not a supposed love of military history and southern society as is oft claimed.  I further believe that it is important to point out that though northern states were not slave holding states, they were not exactly some sort of anti-racist utopia either.  Less oppression does not suddenly equal good.

The republican party loves to refer to itself as the party of Lincoln, and this ignores that Lincoln was not a racially progressive man.  He didn't think that Blacks should have the right to vote, or be considered the equal of a White person.  If he had his way, all Blacks would have been deported to Africa or the Caribbean -- of course -- after they had shed their blood and died fighting against the revolting states.   When he did finally give the Emancipation Proclamation, it only freed slaves who were "in rebel-held areas that were still resisting Union authority". His solitary goal was the preservation of the union and not the equality of African-Americans. The party of Lincoln indeed.

Even today, there is a continual debate as to whether or not the confederate flag is offensive or not. White supremacists tell us that it is about their culture, but when Blacks answer that the culture is about the oppression, and in fact down right animalization of people of colour, these words are ignored. Their ancestors literally died to perpetuate the most hateful institution ever to exist in humanity, but somehow glorifying this is not seen in the least bit problematic.

So strong is the racial hatred, that admitting that this flag absolutely represents treason is ignored.  These are the same people who will loudly proclaim their citizenship and call America the greatest country on the planet.  Oh the irony it burns.  If America is so great, why the constant celebration of the confederate flag al cracker?   The flag represents a desire to secede from the great US of A.

I would further be remiss if I did not point out that the folly of Whiteness, means that poor Whites who did not benefit in the same manner as the rich planter class, shed their blood as well.  To be absolutely clear, economically, no poor White person benefited from slavery.  Blacks provided captive labour, and it was far easier to perpetually own that labour, than to purchase it piecemeal from poor Whites -- and yet this is an institution that they died to protect. There is no doubt that being poor, they would not have had access to education; however, no matter the circumstances of Blacks, African-Americans as a group of have always voted and acted in their own best interests, and this cannot be said of poor White people.

This day should not pass without recognition of what it means in American history, but I am quite certain that it does not require a re-enactment, but an honest conversation about the ways in which White supremacy has been nothing but a blight.  It has made a liar or Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.  America is a country of lofty ideals that often fall flat when juxtaposed to White supremacy.  I know that many will look at this anniversary and be tempted to declare the evils of slavery over, because after all a Black man now resides in the house that slaves built, but if anything, this day should symbolize how far African-Americans still have to go.  The promises of reconstruction have not been met, and Whiteness still owes a debt it has yet to pay to.