Dear President Trump,
The idea that we are losing our history by removing statues venerating Confederate military leaders might have some merit in another universe where there were similarly grand statues celebrating the bravery and achievements of non-military leaders and innovators and where the genders and races of those depicted were proportionate to their numbers in the community. In this context it might be wrong to remove just the statues of secessionists who were fighting to preserve the right to enslave other humans, but in my mind it would still be a stretch, and at the very least, thoughtful commentary explaining the context of the times and places that supported such violations of human rights would have to be added.
You might have noticed that we don’t live in a universe where women and people of color have been valued and our likenesses elevated as examples of what it is we should all strive to be, whether this is brave, selfless, creative, industrious, or diplomatic. Nope, we just put up likenesses of white men, most of whom were involved in some battle or war. There is a rather grand old statue of Joan of Arc dressed for battle on a horse in Portland but one image of a French woman going to battle hardly balances things out.
Basically, the people who chose to erect statues of Lee and Jackson instead of courageous women and men who sought freedom on the Underground Railroad or gave slaves safe passage were being strategic in the part of history they wanted preserved and in people’s faces. So you need to stop the crocodile tears for your warped idea of “history” and step back and see that the telling of particular stories is always at the expense of other stories. Sometimes these choices are based on unconscious bias regarding which are the most important stories and other times the people in power are fully conscious of the ways some stories preserve while other stories undermine their power. And frankly, I am sick of the dominant narrative of anemic white male stories and of only seeing their statues and portraits. So until there is a major concerted effort to elevate and make visible the contributions of women and people of color, the statues of white racist (and no doubt sexist) men need to go.
May absolutely all of us be safe.
May we all be happy to let each other shine.
May we all have healthy egos.
May our lives unfold and intersect with mutual respect.