Rarely is the present so identifiably historic as the moment we are living in. The New Civil Rights Movement, as it has been dubbed, is shining a national spotlight on long-standing racial inequities that sit at the very center of everyday American life and culture. For many would-be white allies — those who possess a real and authentic desire to be anti-racist partners to people of color (POC) — there may be questions about how, precisely, to best engage in the fight against white supremacy. Most of these folks have already begun thinking critically about race and privilege, and want to do the heavy lifting and difficult learning necessary to act as real allies to POC. But they may not be fully certain about practical ways to begin.
According to the latest SPLC tally, there are roughly 780 Confederate monuments standing across the U.S. That’s a staggering number of tributes to the losing side of a treasonous insurrection; a war that ended not with a treaty, but with the South’s full surrender. More importantly, those statues honor people who fought for a nation founded to preserve black enslavement—a fact enshrined in its Constitution, its member states’ declarations of reasons for secession, its vice president’s most famous speech. It’s no wonder that white supremacists of every stripe—from the neo-Nazis who occupied Charlottesville to the man who currently occupies the executive office—are so fiercely defensive of them.
This story first ran in 2017.
There is nothing like the quiet of night to remind you of your every poor life choice and potential impending failure. As if that wasn’t enough to worry about, Americans just elected a president who signs executive orders without reading them and whose foreign policy is mostly just being unpredictable. That’s justifiably nerve-racking for a certain type of person—the kind who loses sleep over things like, say, nuclear war as a distraction from scandal. Maybe that explains why a new internet site that tracks insomnia sufferers by geographic location has a million points of light along the coasts, in the cities and towns that still can’t believe Donald Trump won this whole thing.
If there’s anything our fraught national dialogue on race has taught us, it's that there are no racists in this country. (In fact, not only do multiple studies confirm that most white Americans generally believe racism is over — just 16 percent say there’s a lot of racial discrimination — it turns out that many actually believe white people experience more discrimination than black people.) It’s a silly idea, of course, but it’s easy to delude ourselves into thinking that inequality is a result of cultural failures, racial pathology and a convoluted narrative involving black-on-black crime, hoodies, rap music and people wearing their pants too low. To admit that racism is fundamental to who we are, that it imbues our thinking in ways we wouldn’t and couldn’t believe without the application of the scientific method, is infinitely harder. And yet, there's endless evidence to prove it.
If you talk in your sleep, you’re probably unwittingly working blue, as they say. Researchers find that most people who talk in their sleep tend to utter more curse words and negative phrases than while they’re awake. It turns out that sleep-swearing and the like may actually have real benefit. A new French study suggests all that salty talk could be nature’s way of helping us prepare for the trials and tribulations of waking life.
Please note that activists will be gathering to support Maya Little and memorialize James Cates, a young black man who was murdered by a white motorcycle gang in 1970. That action starts at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 25, and will take place in “the Pit” on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. At 3:00 p.m., those who are able will accompany Little to her trial and pack the Honor Court. The hearing is open to the general public. More here.
This Pro-Slavery American Monument Stands Out as Particularly Disgusting - and Disproves the Hollow Claims of Confederate Statue Defenders
The Heyward Shepherd memorial is an overtly pro-slavery monument erected in 1931 in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. In recognition of John Brown Day, please check out an article of mine published in the Spirit of Jefferson, adapted below, about the many reasons the marker should come down.
Read the Moving Letter the Descendant of a Racist Confederate Leader Wrote in Support of Anti-Racist Activists
Meg Yarnell, the great-great-great-granddaughter of Julian Carr, is calling for academic and criminal charges to be dropped against Maya Little and other anti-racist activists who have been arrested for protests related to the Confederate monument known as Silent Sam. In an open letter to University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill administrators, including Chancellor Carol Folt, Yarnell notes that she is “grateful for what Maya did to contextualize this statue and advance the cause for its removal.”
It’s helpful, in the midst of any conversation about this country’s Confederate monuments, to understand who put these things up, which also offers a clue as to why. In large part, the answer to the first question is the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a white Southern women’s “heritage” group founded in 1894. Starting 30 years after the Civil War, as historian Karen Cox notes in her 2003 book “Dixie’s Daughters,” “UDC members aspired to transform military defeat into a political and cultural victory, where states’ rights and white supremacy remained intact.” In other words, when the Civil War gave them lemons, the UDC made lemonade. Horribly bitter, super racist lemonade.