recently, i had a discussion on Tumblr about how people celebrate (do re-enactments) of the Civil War and/or other historical events from the Antebellum south and what exactly these events are saying. a fellow Tumblr remarked that she and/or her ex participated in Civil War re-enactments and that it was really just a chance to get dressed up for history buffs. and i've just read about how the 50th anniversary of the secession is coming up either now or soon and all the parties and whatnot that will be planned in celebration.
why is it that the LOSING side of the war is always so eager to bring it up and have celebrations surrounding it? losers are supposed to sulk and whine about what could have/should have been done better, mourn their dignity, pride, and self-respect, and then MOVE ON. this is with wars, civil disputes, basketball games, and marching band competitions. i don't know why Mr.Charlie and the rest of his imps feels as though he is exempt from this rule. ??
considering i'm from the south, this topic is not a new one to me. going to school with most whites wearing shirts with the confederate flag on it (along with hats, belt buckles, hair bows, necklaces, backpacks, cars, school supplies, and other memorabilia), there were plenty of people eager to defend The South when negative sentiments were expressed. a shirt i recall is the one with the confederate flag that says "i'm offended that you're offended". it should say "i'm offended this makes you recall slavery, lynchings, and the compete subjugation of your people....it should make you recall well-trained horses in Confederate colors and those good ole Antebellum values!"
aside from that, i've had some more in-depth conversations with people on Myspace political forums and in person about the role slavery played in the events. most southerners (and/or Republicans) will contend that slavery was not an important role in the war. states rights, and laws regarding self-government (or small government) were the main reasons for the war. this goes against what i'd learned in nearly all my history classes, but the again, these classes have left out too much for me not to be skeptical about their curriculum.
so i've been doing more research myself. Wikipedia and the National Park Service have written some articles about the main issue in the war. and it ain't states' rights. here is what Mississippi had to say when it seceded:
"Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery...Utter subjugation awaits us in the Union, if we should consent longer to remain in it. It is not a matter of choice, but of necessity. We must either submit to degradation, and to the loss of property worth four billions of money [the estimated total market value of slaves], or we must secede the Union framed by our fathers, to secure this as well as every other species of property."
many apologists of the south would like to mention the fact that most white southerners (2/3rds, to be more exact) and those that fought in the war did not own slaves, therefore the issue could not have been slavery. but the southerners that did not own slaves were working and poor classes whites. and to my knowledge, no nation has ever went to war with even a regard for the poor and working class. the rich (powerful) individuals control almost all issues with any government. in the South, they were slave-owners whose main source of wealth was slavery. even now, the war in Iraq has nothing to do with the working/poor classes of Americans and all to do with various corporations' monetary interests. yet, as in the Civil War, the main individuals on the battle ground are working and poor class individuals that will gain nothing from fighting. and besides the superiority whites self-imposed over blacks, what did the South have prior to the war that was so important? what is so important and singular to the South that white southerners feel the need to celebrate on nearly a daily basis that the Union was against? oh, right-SLAVERY.
but this issue and this post isn't so much about the Civil War as it is about race relations and who comes out of history looking gallant and/or neutral and who does not.
if whites who support the south can now tell a history in which it was not as gruesome and sickening as it really was, their self-pride is restored. knowing that you come from people who lynched blacks and sold their genitals as souvenirs in front of cheering mobs is not a story one would want to tell their grandchildren. and likewise, theres almost never any mention of slavery in any Civil War reenactments (which i believe take place annually) and there will be no mention of in these upcoming events. the lives of those most effected by the war (non-whites) are non-existent...yet again. these events are done by people who have the privilege of looking into their history and not seeing the complete dismantling of their ancestors' basic human rights. and they're CELEBRATING it.
and this is my main issue with these events-it is a continuation of the white-washing of history. in most public school textbooks, educational lectures, and historic events like the upcoming ones, the perspective; the lives; the basic human struggles of non-whites are too often left out, forgotten, ignored, or glossed over. the more knowledge i gain about the past the more enraged i am that i haven't know these facts before; the more dismayed i am about the "education" we receive in public schools. we see this in what has happened to the Arizona school system, we see it in our national holidays such as Columbus Day and Thanksgiving, and now we see it with these commemoration events. i've talked about my disgust with the whitewashing of American history before, so i won't go into it again. these upcoming events just drive home the point that we as communities need to start educating our children. it is not up to the oppressor to educate the oppressed. mis-education or no education at all is tantamount to their power.
we need to make it mandatory that every time history is mentioned, the race relations and what they have done to our respective communities and relations be made evident. every Confederate flag should be shown alongside a photo like the one below (there are plenty photos more gruesome, but i'd rather not show those. if you haven't seen them, however, you should look them up). and every time some trumpet is sounded to honor the Confederate states, someone should be blasting Strange Fruit by Billie Holiday. the minute we forget what happened to our people is the minute it will happen again.
i'm going to be in the south during the planned parade in Montgomery, Alabama, and considering i'm about an hour and a half away from there, i'll more and likely be protesting the event in some form or fashion. the NAACP is planning to protest, but if they plan to be peaceful about it, i'll be doing my demonstration on my own.
comment. think. criticize. if you're in the south and want to join me in protest, hit me up.
also, check out the post about this topic at a blog i follow.