Featured image artist: Margete Griffin

Racism is real and it takes more than social media posts to tear down the systems that created what we are witnessing. This is not new and it plays out in our nation, our communities, our work places, our schools, and our individual actions every day.

Those who are shocked by what happened in Charlottesville have not wanted to see. Racism’s symbols are lighted torches, flaming crosses, ax handles, nooses, confederate symbols, bullets and badges. But like all symbols, they represent something very real, ideas and concepts that have festered for millennium. Now that we have all seen we cannot hide from it or put it neatly away. And white people must see this as our problem…we created this and we must stop it.

It will take more than living a love-filled life to solve this. It takes active and consistent participation. The dismantling of racism is not a spectator sport.

And if you, like our president, want to blame “all sides” you are part of the problem. There is reason for protest and reason for rage and we don’t get to pick the ways people protest. It isn’t going to be acceptable, neat or convenient. And remember, as white society we have made clear that we don’t like marches that make us late to work or people taking a knee to take a stand.

Proponents of maintaining the Confederate monument in cities across the South contend that the removal of the statue amounts to rewriting or trying to change history. As Jacksonville grapples with its part in this larger debate, we are reminded of the words of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who spoke eloquently of his city’s struggle to come to terms with the Confederate monuments “There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it.” Although we uphold freedom of creative expression, we do not believe that symbols of our racist past should populate our public spaces.

And we must remember that the history most of us know is false and written by the oppressors. And don’t we wish we could rewrite history! Well, we can’t erase the horrors that have occurred, the ripples of which we all live with still today. But we can stop celebrating it and begin reckoning with its impact to create real change. Yes, when we look into the eyes of hundreds of young white, mostly men, carrying torches and driving their weapon into a crowd we should be angry. But remember, the real work requires you to look into the eyes of those who have been oppressed for too long and say NO MORE… with our actions as well as our words.

Yellow House and our partners at White & Woke, an organization of white people standing up for black lives, applaud Jacksonville’s City Council President Anna Brosche and the other Council members who are taking the lead on removing the symbols of the confederacy. This change is one that truly honors all of our citizens.