One thing missing in the April 8 issue about the Vance memorial [“Honor System: Vance Monument Restoration Raises Troubling Questions,” Xpress] is how those same laws that allowed the use of African-American “prisoners” convicted of petty crimes to be used to enrich white landowners through their use as involuntary servants in the construction of infrastructure … is still going on today, with sometimes even greater zeal. The mass incarceration of minority and poor folks through arrests for minor infractions and ever-increasing fines ending in jailing is just starting to be identified as wrong, anti-civil rights actions that are aimed at continuing poor and minority folks in a permanent underclass state.
As a transplanted Northerner, I have always been amazed that the South wants to glorify its past Confederate history while being so quick to overlook its true history, both past and present, of violence, hate, impoverishment and economic and chattel slavery of people. It seems to me to be more of the “historical myth” that is so much of the social, economic and racial history of white privilege and supremacy.
We make up a history of American Exceptionalism that freely ignores our true history and glorifies a version of history that is sugar-coated and amnesiac. We push to teach this history to generation after generation, ignoring any and all ills [in] our past. But the truth is out there to be seen and revealed through books like The New Jim Crow and A People’s History of the United States and others, as well as current events throughout the South and beyond. We willfully ignore our true history because we want a fairy-tale America. Those who push forward this ignorance truly don’t understand that the real strength of a people comes from their ability to reveal the truth, and deal with it and move forward.
I support the addition of monuments to black Asheville’s past and present history past as well as history to yet be made. Let them stand next to Vance and allow people to see the full truth of Asheville’s history and decide for themselves which deserves our respect and praise.
— Michael Beech