Though the city will be a target of derision for babbling idiots dressed in tight polo shirts, donning haircuts reminiscent of Macklemore's above their strangely soft-looking, boyish faces, Charlottesville should be commended for the action it is taking to remove the statues. To the east, Richmond, a city with an entire street dedicated to honoring the Confederate States of America, is naturally facing similar problems. In attempting to address the thorny problem of what to do with the statues, Mayor Levar Stoney has proposed not to take the statues down, but rather to contextualize them. What this means is anyone's guess, and a series of public hearings have been scheduled so that the people of Richmond can decide how the Confederate statues can best be contextualized.
Two nights ago, the first of these hearings occurred, and it really did not go well. A raucous crowd jeered at speakers it disagreed with, much to the dismay of the committee formed to deal with the statue situation.
The answer to this whole entire situation was presented at the hearing, but was immediately beaten down by a committee member:
George Knight said the monuments represent "white supremacy" and questioned why Richmond continued to house "participation trophies" for the Confederacy.
"You lost, get over it already!" he shouted.
A mixture of applause and boos drowned him out.
"Down with white supremacy!" he said before leaving the mic to return to his seat.
Kimball chastised him.
"Sir, you know, we really don't need that," he said. "I hope you all did hear what I said at the beginning of this. We don't need inciting people. We need conversation."
Clearly, Knight has the right idea. Another speaker, Thelma Brown, sums it up nicely:
Thelma Brown said she didn't see her ancestors honored when she looked at Monument Avenue. She called the current monuments a reflection of oppression, and said they cause her pain.Symbols of white supremacy line the streets of Richmond. Black residents walk these streets, and look up to see depictions of men that would have seen them as less than human. For these residents, the statues represent oppression. Nobody should ever feel oppressed in their home; keeping these statues standing is nothing short of a disgrace.
"Virginia has a debt to pay, and we're waiting," she said.
Kimball says we need conversation. But conversation produces nothing but words. Just take a look at the Letter to the Editor section of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Everyday that there is a letter about the statues, I take a picture of it and put it in an album. I have a ridiculous number of photos. Clearly, there has been plenty of conversation. What the city of Richmond now needs is results. And there should be no satisfaction until these statues that stand for white supremacy come down to the ground.