Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Fading Stain on the South

As most of you know, former North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms died on July 4th. Taking a cue from Tap Dancing on the Edge of Reason I want to add my two cents worth since the truth about Mr. Helms' character is being pretty much ignored in the media. Just like her I would never wish death upon any person but I'll be honest and say that I didn't shed a tear when another artist told me of the news Friday.

For the past few days I've heard President Bush, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and even Reverend Billy Graham call Jesse a "good and decent man" who "waged the good fight." Those words absolutely turn my stomach. The truth is that Jesse and his pals Strom Thurmond (SC), Lester Maddox (GA), and George Wallace (AL) remained staunch racists long after they fought against the 1964 Civil Rights Act that solidified the right to vote for people of color. What I find particularly offensive is how the press is handling his death just the same way it handled his senate retirement.

Now most of you know that I dearly love the southeastern United States, and in particular I love living in South Carolina. In fact I embrace everything about it: the food, the music, the culture, and even its history. To comprehend all of it would take a lifetime. And that is exactly what I have...or at least another half.

Obviously there are some historical moments and certain Southerners like the aforementioned “gentlemen” that I am truly ashamed of. I wasn't a part of that past and just like my parents, I will not allow my children to grow up in an environment that judges a person by the color of their skin, the religion he or she chooses, or even by the gender chosen as a partner. But to accept one's culture is to recognize its wrongs. And with acceptance comes the responsibility to at least try to right the wrong. I can't fix all of the transgressions of my culture's past but I sure as hell can change its future by instilling a love and respect for all human life in my children.

So as you continue to hear the accolades thrown toward Mr. Helms keep in mind these words written by CNN’s Roland S. Martin. I for one will do my best to make sure we remove the rest of the stain by never letting another bigot into office.

1 comment:

we_be_toys said...

I went and read Roland S. Martin's article you linked to - wow, good article! Wish I had seen that one earlier.

Thanks so much for the linkage! This was a topic I just had to address. It's heartening to know there are other Southerners out there who ARE "fighting the good fight" against folks like ole Jesse, Strom, and George.