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Recently, Rep. Karl Oliver from my home state of Mississippi invited us back to the land of cotton, where antebellum hearts and desires still prevail. He revealed some are still fighting the lost cause with his comments on the removal of confederate memorials located on Louisiana public spaces. In his Facebook post, Rep. Karl Oliver of Winona, Mississippi stated:

“The destruction of these monuments, erected in the loving memory of our family and fellow Southern Americans, is both heinous and horrific. If the, and I use this term extremely loosely, “leadership” of Louisiana wishes to, in a Nazi-ish fashion, burn books or destroy historical monuments of OUR HISTORY, they should be LYNCHED! Let it be known, I will do all in my power to prevent this from happening in our State.”

To say his comments are disturbing is an understatement. I simply cannot look away. I noticed he used the word “our”.

Who are the people he is referring to? The South has the largest concentration of black people in the country. Of the southern states, Mississippi has the largest percentage, with 37%. It is both “heinous and horrific” that Oliver can not visualize and consider an overwhelming number of black Mississippians and Southerners as fellow Southern Americans.

Undoubtedly, he is referring to mostly white, confederate sympathizers. The use of “our” is grossly inaccurate, and it reveals a mindset that is focused on the desires and legacy of white supremacy. The thoughts and feelings of minorities, particularly black Americans, are simply not his concern. “The erection in loving memory” comes at the expense of black people being overshadowed by a system that held them captive for over 200 years.

I do not understand how an elected official makes a pro-confederate statement using language that includes a large number of black people and assumes we will be ok with it. What is more troubling about Oliver’s statements is the fact that he mocks the leadership of Louisiana, comparing them to Nazis.

His comparison of Louisiana’s officials’ actions to Nazism is pathetic and insensitive. What is more “Nazi-ish?” A group of leaders who consider other humans who are deeply hurt by the glorification of those who sought to oppress and enslave their ancestors? Or a leader who wishes to commit violent acts against those who disagree with his ideology, and promises to do everything in his power to limit their rights to achieve his goals?

What is to be expected from a man like Karl Oliver? He makes it pretty clear that anyone victorious in the fight to remove confederate monuments should be met with violence. I absolutely believe the monuments should be taken down. Does this mean I should fear Oliver and his posse, appearing at my doorstep with pitchforks and torches? If you plan to do “all in your power” to keep those monuments erected and threaten the opposition with violence, then you are a tyrant and dictator, Karl Oliver.

Jemar Tisby recently wrote an article on lynching, reminding us this term should never be used lightly. I can only believe that opposers of confederate monuments, myself included, should expect hate and threats of violence from people like Karl Oliver. I can only guess that WHEN those monuments come down, the next step will be threats of secession from those who share in Oliver’s love of the South’s confederate history.

As a fellow Southerner, I can say my history is not your history, Representative Karl Oliver. Your history is one that glorifies those who supported a system created to enslave African captives. Your history carries a legacy of oppression and discrimination against people of color. It is clear Karl Oliver desires to keep the status quo of white supremacy, racism, and the degradation of black people alive.

Karl Oliver can keep his apology; I am not fooled. If he is truly apologetic, then he ought to advocate for the removal of the confederate memorials in OUR state, and aid in the effort to change OUR state flag. I do not accept your apology, Representative Oliver. Just like I do not believe my black brothers and sisters should be apologetic about fighting to change the narrative of brutality, racism, and the glorification of systems designed to attack our status as humans made in the image of God. I do not believe you should apologize for revealing your true self.

As a young black male, living in the state of Mississippi, I am not surprised by his comments. In Mississippi, April is Confederate Heritage Month. The local community college in my hometown is named after Jefferson Davis, the president of the confederacy. Some of my friends endured field trips and weddings at “Beauvoir”, Jefferson Davis’s beach home. Our state flag is one that includes a symbol of hatred and oppression. As a student at the University of Mississippi, I saw confederate flags everyday, either on car decals or the shirts of my fellow students. All across our state, college campuses are littered with buildings named after virulent racists.

A popular thing for people to do while living in Jackson is visit the Ross Barnett Reservoir. Ross Barnett was a former governor who made it his personal mission to prevent James Meredith, the first black student enrolled at the University of Mississippi, from integrating into the school. All of these examples, plus more, has accustomed me to a culture and state where the ideology like that of Rep. Oliver’s is all too common.

I long for a time when the oppressive norms of the southern culture are no more. I long for a time when our leaders lead and govern with the best interest of all people in mind, instead of just one group. I long for a time when there will be no more silent understandings that black people should sit back and wait until white people are finished praying and thinking about whether they will treat us with the dignity deserved by those who are created in the image of God.

This longing can only be fulfilled when Christ returns to make all things new. Only then will the south rise again in all its glory. There will be no more symbols of hatred and oppression. It will rise and everything below the Mason-Dixon line will be in perfection; where everyone regardless of race will have peace. It will rise, and we will only worship our Lord and Savior in his full glory. I long for that day. Come. Come quickly.

 

http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/2017/may/22/rep-karl-olivers-lynching-call-turns-spotlight-mis/
https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045216/28

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