Charlottesville: Facing the Ugly Face of Racism
This was the news. On Aug. 11-12, a Unite the Right rally took place at the University of Virginia. The rally resulted in the death of three people — including two state troopers — and made headlines throughout the country for its controversial nature. Many of the rally participants were seen waving Nazi symbolism. The rally began over outrage from people upset about a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee being removed. And there it was. The fly in the ointment, as it was.
Did you get a memo from Health, Education and Welfare in the past few years advising us about the (health) dangers of prodding such smoldering embers as racism? Maybe we didn't get the thick letter with a drab envelope marked "Important Documents" mailed from the A.S.P.C.A. keeping all citizens on Uncle Sam's mailing list that racism is wrong and can lead to trouble with raging, uneducated races mix.
I missed my memo as well as my letter advising me about a situation that someone, somewhere, somehow a law or two was passed telling African-Americans and those, whites included, in the 1800s prior to 1865 that slavery and its ugly step-sister, racism, have not read this memo or letter. These two hooligans cannot slide by on that old adage, we can't read, anymore. Reading is fundamental. And everyday citizens in and out of America can read. Even in braille. Reading or someone interpreting is available everywhere on tap.
This one outrageous rally in Charlottesville, Va., caused plenty of Confederate statues, all famous and warrior-like men, were taken from the public view on and around the University of Texas as well as other sensitive areas of racism that is not so obviously given up or put into mothballs. There are actually thousands of people who think that white people are superior to all other races--and the last time that I looked, there is just one race--the human race. And what's in the color of a person's skin. You've heard this old drum and bugle parade before, but somehow the horse is still out of the gate.
And just when we thought that the troubles surrounding Charlottesville, in comes ESPN. Oh, now what does one of the most-watched sports networks in the world have to do (in the smallest way) with Charlottesville? ESPN confirmed on Tuesday night, Aug. 22, that they moved an announcer named Robert Lee off the Virginia-William & Mary football game on Sept. 2. Due to the poor guy's name. Is and was this "moving" his fault? Did ESPN's gesture a motion that signaled a deeper fear held by major corporations in our land? Or just plain out and out fear? Personally, I would love to know.
"We collectively made the decision with Robert to switch games as the tragic events in Charlottesville were unfolding, simply because of the coincidence of his name. In that moment it felt right to all parties. It’s a shame that this is even a topic of conversation and we regret that who calls play by play for a football game has become an issue," ESPN said from another sports network. This was, after a lot of head scratching, a wise move. Why light the fuse when a keg of isn't needed to break through a barrier of rocks obstructing a tunnel leading to the mother lode in the mine?
ESPN, authorities at the University of Texas are just two hamsters running the wheels that are sure enough hard to figure. Are they implementing a "retreat and live to fight another day," or "we had rather agree with the invisible hatred that makes most sensible people quiver with fear? I for one, an American citizen, taxpayer, an a white man, would love to sit down with a handful of all representatives of world's races--black, yellow, red and white, "yes, Jesus loves the little children of the world." But this is a task that not even Ray Stevens can sing away?
I know that I may be considered a dawdling old fool, but just think what will (or would) happen if the same skeletons of higher-up's who pull triggers for ESPN were to assign (without knowing) another sports commentator by the name of Martin L. King? What then? Would companies of this proportion keep shuffling away names that might tend to cause controversy just because of a person's name? And what would this King fella do if he were of the white race? Yeah, then what would ESPN do?
On the side of those who had rather take down a crusty statue than talk openly and wisely, I would love to suggest that you, the groups leading the charge of taking down all memories of the Confederacy and hiding them for a progressive nation, you can take down every iota of Confederacy, but you cannot take down the brutal memories shared by both white and African-Americans back when the War Between the States was really running wild, but the human heart, unless it is removed, can always resort to thinking about equal rights, the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and those who lost their lives in what was arguably (the) most important battle of all: Equality for all. No statues. No rallies. No violence.
But we have those, maybe a small handful of misguided, uneducated groups of color who sport swastika's waving Nazi signs and flags who are still living in the shadow of the late Adolph Hitler and The Third Reich that was supposedly buried right after 1945. Or did we miss something? Apparently we did. This nation or any nation that has civilized people should not be talking about racism, violence, or genetic cleansing. The only cleansing that I need is from my AXE body wash for men. To this day I cannot watch a single "Fall of The Third Reich" documentary shown on NatGeo, History or at the local theater? It is to me, you and all sensible souls everywhere who know right from wrong, the warped sign of an arrogant, deviant, evil and mentally-challenged white ruler by the name of Hitler.
I was one of the few white teenage guys back when the Vietnam (Police Action) was grinding day and night who actually agreed with the protests given by The Black Panthers. Not that I would have my scrawny butt beaten by my friends, Randall Metcalf, Alvin Spears, all African-Americans. I weighed the differences in how the Pentagon generals were calling the plays in 'Nam by sending most Black guys caught in the Draft to the front lines while most white guys stayed behind in a supportive position.
This is why that I aligned myself early on in 1969, with The Black Panthers who not only protested the senseless killings by those powerful Army generals as well as this senseless Police Action. Did you get that? Senseless. Sure. Call me American. I will not argue. I am both an American and a white man. I cannot and will not apologize to anyone for this. I didn't call the shots. The Almighty did. Do I blame Him for Vietnam? Black and white protesters going wild in the streets? No. But when racism put into a pot on a hot eye of the stove and only simmers, one day the mixture will begin to spill out and then you have a kitchenful of trouble.
So watch our stoves. Watch our valued old memories without taking down any statues. But more importantly and wisely, we all could just watch our hearts.
© 2017 Kenneth Avery