Civil Rights Movement

I’m a black woman who grew up in Mississippi. Here are my thoughts on the Unite The Right Rally

Chellese Hall

This letter is a preface to protests. Its’a a disclaimer prior to anticipated discord. I’m sitting inside my Southside DC apartment as I write this, unsure of what this weekend might bring, but the grip of anxiousness is just strong enough for me to stop what I’m doing and write. Because I am black, because I’m a woman, because I’m a citizen, I stopped what I was doing to– yet again–assert my own humanity and register my objections to oppression. (sigh)

I know a bit about white supremacy and the mindset that lets it persist.

At the age of 6, I moved from the bustling motor city of Detroit, to a small town of Brandon, Mississippi right outside of the metro Jackson area. While my classmates accused me of supposedly “talking white” and I was trying to adjust to my private schooled and more privileged playmates, my parents were dealing with neighbors who couldn’t believe we could afford to live here and pretending that the FBI didn’t come to our house just to say ‘hello’. (Yes, that really happened. You can ask my parents)

Growing up in Mississippi, I also learned about those who had a practiced bias and open discrimination. I have plenty of stories of my own, my family, brothers and sisters of color and even white friends who experienced firsthand systems of unfairness.

One of the factors that contributes to this system of disparity is an old-time symbol on Mississippi’s state flag that should have rightfully died or been preserved in archives by now along with other artifacts from a failed rebellion. The state flag, with its Confederate emblem in the corner, the banner that is supposed to represent all the people in a state with the highest proportion of black people. the place where I grew up–is a reminder, a wedge, historical artifact of conflict, and consequently, the focal point of our podcast, Red Flag.  

 We began the journey of this podcast with the intent to chronicle the history and momentum of the Confederate flag in order to hopefully change the state flag. Through strategic interviews, stories, and listening to arguments for and against the flag, I learned a lot more than my my teachers and my textbooks were willing to tell. I can say honestly that I understand the heritage some hold to so dearly, but the Confederate flag still sirens the type of bondage that people who look like me died to resist.

As the hundreds of projected Unite the Right members and fellow fascist friends flood downtown D.C. on Sunday, I’m willing to bet double the amount of my graduate school loans that the Confederate flag will be waving.

I left Mississippi and now I am a graduate student in Washington D.C. With the rally soon taking place, I pray no one dies. I pray for the safety of students, faculty, and workers who are on and near the really (which happens on the very block where I now attend graduate school). I pray in gratefulness for Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, DC restaurants and plenty of other local and national companies who have already agreed to not service customers who represent these hate groups, because advocacy matters. Big decisions for small interactions matter. And Black lives? A big YES! They matter. 

It would be overly optimistic for me to ask for justice at this point, or peace, and it’s probably too far gone for a conversation. What I will ask, what I will #policypush, and continue to bring to light is this; an action that can perhaps bring a bit more unity to the state where I grew up.  Mississippi, take it down.

To my Black and brown friends, be safe and fight.

To my not-as-colorful friends, speak out with us.

To all, never stop speaking truth to power.

7 thoughts on “I’m a black woman who grew up in Mississippi. Here are my thoughts on the Unite The Right Rally

  1. William Douglas

    Conversations do not happen in mobs. They happen person to person. So perhaps despair over such is too pessimistic. I fear we are becoming penned up in our own echo chambers and that meaning conversation is self limited. Writing in order to shove back feels good but may not be the only — or best — option at every instance.

    As one who is opposed to the Unite mob and their message/outlook I am not so sure we should rejoice that restaurants will be closed to them. What if restaurants were closed to a Black Lives Matter event? Should we only support the rights of those with whom we agree?

    Anyway — I am open to conversations anytime.

  2. Thomas W.

    I’m from Brandon. I’m sorry some people mistreated y’all. It’s not surprising to me as it’s largely a redneck county (or at least was 20 years ago). I hope you met plenty of others though who weren’t that way as well. I knew many who were not.

    Also, will there be a follow up article on the racism and violence of the “counter-protesters” who seem to be all that actually showed up this weekend? Will there be an additional declaration issued this year that denounces antifa?

  3. Thomas W.

    It’s just identity politics on both ends.

  4. Jeff

    Personally, I do not understand what the point of the Unite The Right protest/rally is. But I also do not understand what the point of the violent anti-protest/anti-rally is. We all know there is going to be violence, so why go, then act the part of the victim?

  5. Melvi

    So it’s okay for restaurants to discriminate, but not bake shops and florists?

  6. Angela Powell

    You learned early. I am glad that you are not bitter about the situation….

  7. Angela Powell

    You learned early. I love the fact that you are not bitter…….

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