After reading Russell Allen’s commentary, “Free Lexington’s heart of monuments to traitorous slaveholders; it’s really not that complicated,” I started to think about South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, established after apartheid was abolished in 1994.
This process of reconciliation required white Africans to admit wrongdoing, to examine their history of abuse under a naked light, to meet their victims and offer up apologies. It required a great deal of vulnerability on the part of all South Africans. The TRC did not end racism, but many South Africans point to the commission as a source of healing.
Lexington’s Confederate statues do not offer a historical critique of slavery. As Allen said so well, what does it say that these Confederates stand so much taller than the rest of us?
It says that we in the Bluegrass have not been seeking truth or reconciliation for our slave-holding past. We are not seeking truth or reconciliation for the racism of our current time.
The courageous thing to do, my fellow white Lexingtonians, is to remember that we have much work left to do with our black and brown neighbors. The first, obvious step is to move the Confederate statues from downtown. The next? Start seeking truth and reconciliation.