Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram. My Body Is a Confederate Monument". I’ve got rebel-gray blue blood coursing my veins. She has taught in two of the poorest states in the union — Mississippi and West Virginia — and she has been educated at two of the richest universities on the globe — Harvard and Oxford. Alex Haley's Queen: The Story of an American Family (1993) is a historical novel, later a movie, that brought knowledge of the "children of the plantation" to public attention. I am a great-great-granddaughter. The one drop rule meant that they could never be part of white society. To those people it is my privilege to say, I am proof. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. So I am not an outsider who makes these demands. Williams, Caroline Randall (June 26, 2020). My Body Is a Confederate Monument", Plantation complexes in the Southern United States, Slave health on plantations in the United States, Treatment of the enslaved in the United States, Historically black colleges and universities, Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC), Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Black players in professional American football, History of African Americans in the Canadian Football League,, Short description with empty Wikidata description, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 9 October 2020, at 04:11. She has spoken in twenty states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and West Virginia, in venues that range from as small as a classroom in a neighborhood school to as large as the Superdome mainstage during Essence Fest. Mulatto children of slave women and white men, often via rape, Plantation agriculture in the Southeastern United States, Slavery in the colonial history of the United States, History of sexual slavery in the United States, Enslaved women's resistance in the United States and Caribbean, "You Want a Confederate Monument? Pettus, the storied Confederate general, the grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, the man for whom Selma’s Bloody Sunday Bridge is named. I come from Confederates. I am proof that whatever else the South might have been, or might believe itself to be, it was and is a space whose prosperity and sense of romance and nostalgia were built upon the grievous exploitation of black life. Content is available under CC BY-SA 3.0 unless otherwise noted. Caroline Randall Williams (@caroranwill) is the author of “Lucy Negro, Redux” and “Soul Food Love,” and a writer in residence at Vanderbilt University. Born and raised in Nashville Tennessee, Harvard graduate Caroline Randall Williams is an award-winning poet, young adult novelist, and cookbook author as well as an activist, public intellectual, performance artist, and scholar. As far as family history has always told, and as modern DNA testing has allowed me to confirm, I am the descendant of black women who were domestic servants and white men who raped their help. Who dares to tell me to celebrate them? A monument-worthy memory. An artifact to make tangible the truth of the past. My very existence is a relic of slavery and Jim Crow. The black people I come from were owned and raped by the white people I come from. According to the rule of hypodescent (the social and legal practice of assigning a genetically mixed-race person to the race with less social power) I am the daughter of two black people, the granddaughter of four black people, the great-granddaughter of eight black people.

You cannot dismiss me as someone who doesn’t understand. Whiteness. A minority of fathers treated these children well, sometimes providing educational or career opportunities, or manumitting them. Black America’s constant whining and complaining, its excessive chauvinism and racial animosities have a lot to do with the violence and crimes perpetrated by its lower class representatives. Either way, I say the monuments of stone and metal, the monuments of cloth and wood, all the man-made monuments, must come down. I am more than half white, and none of it was consensual. You Want a Confederate Monument? The black people I come from were owned by the white people I come from. The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. And here’s our email:

My Body Is a Confederate Monument, growing clamor from serious, nonpartisan public servants. Among the apologists for the Southern cause and for its monuments, there are those who dismiss the hardships of the past. Such children were born into slavery, through an American legal doctrine known as partus sequitur ventrem. July 3, 2020 The statue of confederate general Stonewall Jackson was removed on July 1, 2020, in Richmond, Va. Go back one more generation and it gets less straightforward, and more sinister. My body and blood are a tangible truth of the South and its past. They imagine a world of benevolent masters, and speak with misty eyes of gentility and honor and the land. My skin is a monument. It puts me squarely at the heart of the debate. "You Want a Confederate Monument? This is not an ignorant pride but a defiant one.