Stone-cold racism lingers

Published 5:29 pm Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

In the land of the free, inequality is embedded in the foundations of modern society, etched in the stones we memorialize each day, sometimes undetected or unintentional, but always perpetuating the racial disparities many suffer from today.

Across the nation, these physical forms of outdated, racist values threaten the movement toward a more equitable and accepting country.

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A monument is a testimony to a person, place or event that has deeply impacted the growth and development of a nation or body of people. Therefore, our monuments should be reflective of significant figures who have paved ways for equality, unity, compassion and patriotism to flourish within the nation.

The current Confederate statues stand as testaments to ideals and ideologies contradictory to those currently held within the American society. These structures physically manifest the racist, inequitable values and practices which, for decades, oppressed minorities. They commemorate a time when all were not given equal rights and opportunities to live out the freedoms promised in our founding documents.

Confederate monuments do not have a place or purpose in the public spaces where they stand, but could be more accurately represented within the educational atmosphere of local museums.

I’m asking that the Isle of Wight County officials and residents consider the negative impact the Confederate memorial located in front of the former county courthouse may have on local and neighboring county residents and begin the relocation process immediately.

One important consideration for all Isle of Wight County residents is where the allocation of funds would come from to relocate the statue to the private property of a local citizen. Who is expected to provide the funding for the labors of removal and relocation?

The continued presence of the statue as a visual focal point towering over the courthouse publicly declares the values that the county espouses. Its presence within the county, especially in regards to recent political and social upheavals, is particularly striking against the background of the county’s legal seat.

The land of the free should memorialize those who fought for all to live within it equally and safely. Confederate statues symbolize values and philosophies that are important for public education, but not public veneration.

Caitlyn Joseph

Christopher Newport University

Newport News

Editor’s note: County supervisors voted last month to relocate the Confederate monument from the former courthouse grounds but have not decided where it will go or when it will be moved.