I was told the Ku Klux Klan might be coming to Pittsboro this morning to protest the taking down of the confederate statue. The Chatham County Commissioners voted 4-1 to take the statue down last month. The KKK is known as an American white supremacist hate group. It’s very disturbing to think that they would appear in our progressive county. (For a long time, I didn’t think they were still a thing). They did just show up in Hillsborough a few weeks ago.
We have been working on bringing whites and people of color together every month to learn more about white privilege. LaShauna Austria is our force of nature leader and we call it the Chatham Social Justice Exchange. Abundance NC and RAFI are partners.
“Fish don’t know they’re in water. If you tried to explain it, they’d say, “Water? What’s water?” They’re so surrounded by it that it’s impossible to see. They can’t see it until they jump outside of it.
This is how I feel about culture. We’re so surrounded by it that it’s impossible to see. Many things we think are true are really just our local culture. We can’t see it until we get outside of it.” Derek Sivers
We white people don’t know what it’s like to feel oppressed, to fear for our lives, or anything about what it’s truly like to be a black person, a latino, or anyone outside of our white American culture. And it’s not the job of others to educate us….we must do that for ourselves.
Today was truly inspiring and actually made me cry to hear the stories from my neighbors of color. One very tall black man and I were buying coffees together. We recognized each other from just being around town. He told me about growing up in Moore County and driving through Pittsboro when he was younger. Pittsboro had one stop light then and it was pretty dark and he would round the corner of the courthouse and there was the looming confederate statue. This sweet man was scared driving through our town of Pittsboro. I’ve never felt that fear. I’m a privileged white woman that can do anything I want. I can walk anywhere I want, go in any store without someone thinking I’m stealing something. Little old ladies do not clutch their purses when I walk past them.
Today, Del Turner, Stephanie Perry and many others organized a counter protest to the group coming out. The local police and sheriffs were out in force to make sure everyone was safe. There was a lot of fear on the liberal side of the street. I understand the fear because of all that has happened in our nation, but I think this needs folks to show up. Let’s not manifest violence in little Pittsboro. Let’s listen to each other. Let’s talk to the confederate statue supporters. I think they believe that taking down the statue is “historic cleansing”. Maybe it is. We only have one statue in the county that I know of and it doesn’t represent our whole history. We do have an incredibly bizarre monument erected to honour the heroes of September 11th.
I believe that this is an opportunity to bring all the people together in the county. Let’s get the leaders together on all the sides, form an Equity Committee, figure out either a beautiful piece of art to go at the courthouse or a tree or something that represents this loving community that we really live in. I personally cannot stand down any longer.
It’s hard truths that need to be heard. It’s not all pretty. But we owe it to ourselves to finally be a model of what a united, diverse and equitable community can look like.
Stephanie Perry gave a powerful speech and quoted Muhammad Ali:
“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given, than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion.
Made me cry. Please join us. It will take everyone of us to reverse this trend of systemic, institutionalized, implicit racism and inequity.
Thank you Tami for your observation here. I too am heartened to see our community show up for love. I continue to be educated on the historical context surrounding the placement of this statue and the era of Jim Crow. We need to educate our young so they know- the real history/truth is typically not taught in school. I just read an amazing book: The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. It chronicles the great migration of black americans north and west from 1905-1975, the terrorism that they faced every day in the south and were forced to leave for their own safety. Also the systematic racism they experienced once they got away to the cities. We have to believe unity/harmony are possible or what can we pass on to our children and grandchildren?
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You are in incredible with riighteous beliefs! Just trip the clan when they are there.
Nothing impressed me more than the pic of all the black folks in the window of the wood shop. It appeared to be once their town.
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Yes….it still is their town…it’s all of ours. Thank you.
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Tami, Thank you for this lovely perspective about our city and community that we love.
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Hi Tami, I was happy to stand with people protesting racism in Pittsboro today and I’m also glad that you and your family came out to defend your town. I have some differing thoughts about the idea of dialogue with confederate statue supporters based on my personal experiences of receiving death threats and graphic harassment from many of them. Today, I went to the other side to photograph the racists (to document who showed up and what groups they were affiliated with). Some of the ‘dialogue’ I was treated to was unproductive to say the least. Three people with skinhead patches (neo-Nazis) told me they would like to see me in porn, and one of them added, “killing communists isn’t just for the movies.” I hadn’t said a word to them. I also photographed several members of the Hiwaymen, a racist group that rallied alongside the Nazis in Charlottesville in 2017. After tweeting some of their photos, activists from Virginia identified some as people who had personally participated in that deadly rally. I am in favor or removing confederate monuments as quickly as possible because these are the types of people they attract.
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I’m sorry to hear about how you were treated.
Thank you for your thoughtful post and for sharing your righteous quest for truth and justice! The Muhammad Ali quote is phenomenal! Here is a poem I wrote for George Floyd: http://humanwritesblog.com/2020/06/02/ode-to-big-floyd/