Take a Flag, Take a Statue, Take a Knee
Sowers of Justice Network condemns, in the strongest possible terms, white supremacy, racism, and threats of violence and intimidation against people of color and those who advocate for their rights. We urge people to remember that our country has a long culpable history when it comes to racism. This culpability requires full recognition of our economic and material benefit from slave labor and structural racism, and our ongoing benefits from white privilege. These sober truths require our persistent action, reckoned restitution, appropriate reparations, faithful persistence, and active anti-racism.
We acknowledge the deep pain that flags and monuments honoring the Confederacy bring to some of our community and even more so, current government actions to retain their prominent placement. Moving Confederate monuments helps confront the past, not to avoid it. We support the removal from prominent places any and all monuments that honor slavery or honor those who initiated or fought to preserve the institution and commerce of slavery.
While such enshrined racism may appear to be a particularly southern scourge, virulent oppressive racism infects not only the South but also all other regions of the country. These painful emblems, markers, monuments and statues are not limited to states that were members of the confederacy. Most of these public memorials were constructed many decades after the Civil War, during particularly difficult episodes of our nation's history. Though beloved and historic, such public artifacts must be moved and replaced with those that better match our national ideals and inspire the actual living out of our American values of equality and justice for all and our faith values of fairness and active compassion for all who suffer.
Public attention has understandably focused on conflicts arising from removal of confederate statues and markers, especially those in southern states, and on the fatal and violent incidents of white supremacy in Charlottesville, VA. Whether public statues, monuments markers and symbols are ultimately removed, or removed and reinterpreted to acknowledge these shameful pasts, we support our activist colleagues, students, and others who have challenged us to examine racism and its manifestation in statues and other public displays.
Ugly unwanted public attention has unfortunately fallen on those activists and persons most vulnerable in the effort to remove offensive racist objects and to secure the rights, liberties, and basic needs of people of color. Recent events include many sobering reminders of the pervasiveness of racism and other forms of hate directed at those seeking racial justice in the United States that seem to be encouraged from prominent elected officials and their advisors.
It is therefore critical that we do our utmost to host ongoing conversations about race and racism, and actively intervene against those who would threaten, minimize, or silence the voices of people who have suffered and even now grieve the effects of both actively personalized racism and systemic structural racism.
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