On Statues and Memories -- An Open Letter to Donald Trump
So it turns out I’m a Civil War buff.
I came by it honestly: my parents met at Gettysburg College. My father lived in a residence hall on campus that was used as a hospital during the battle. My only grandmother lived in Gettysburg for most of my childhood and early adult life, and between family reunions and family trips to visit to her, I have wandered that battlefield many, many times. And many others as well.
But my interest in the Civil Way grew on a different vine as well. I grew up in North Carolina during the era of bussing and integration. (Long time readers know that, on the basis of Swann v Charlotte, I was bussed for racial integration from the second grade to the twelfth.) In other words, I grew up in the South when the “lost cause” and “evil Yankees” and “states’ rights not slavery” narratives were in full swing, accepted as mantra by most people – or at least most white people.
But not me. I always found them bullshit. Maybe that’s because while I grew up in North Carolina, my family is not from there. My father grew up in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and while my mother grew up in Arlington, VA (on Lee Street, for that matter! And attended racially segregated Lee High School. Then again, my father’s Ohio schools were fully segregated as well.) Maybe it’s because I was (am?) a curmudgeon and a contrarian.
But whatever the reason, I didn’t buy the lost cause, or the states’ rights arguments (states’ rights to do what? Oh, yeah: legalize slavery.), or any of the other explanations Southerners offered to justify their secession. Those arguments were, and are, naked rationalizations of white racial dominance through the economic, political, and physical exploitation of people of African heritage.
However, my having rejected the rationalizations spewed at me never stopped me from remembering. From learning. From growing.
You see, you don’t need commemorative statues honoring traitors and losers to REMEMBER and LEARN what they did and why they did it. (Notably, I’m less bothered than some by the statues in battlefields: they are markers and guides to who did what where and when; they enhance understanding.) You especially don’t need statues like the one in Charlottesville (and lots of other places) when the purpose for which they were erected was and is a distortion of historical truth: that an elite of Southern slave holding men led half the country into a rebellion they were awfully likely to lose, and one that was against the interests of vast numbers of their citizens – much less the citizens of the nation at large.
Statues like the ones in Charlottesville and Richmond and a thousand other places distort the truth, and so disrupt memory. They undermine learning. They actually prevent knowledge.
So, President Trump, taking down a statue in Charlottesville (or anywhere else) does not destroy culture or memory or the search for truth. It enhances it.
If I thought you were the kind or person who could understand this message, well, I’d be a lot more optimistic about your presidency than I am. But we both know you aren’t. Which is probably why you like all those giant statue-like portraits of yourself – or, of yourself as you fantasize you are.
I just want to take a moment to congratulate Mike Faist on his tony nomination. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this than the small town kid from Ohio, who finished high school a year early to pack up his things and move to New York. dropped out of his musical theater program at AMDA after two semesters because he had the gut feeling that it wasn’t right. nine months later, is living in a tiny apartment in the back of a mcdonalds parking lot, performing white Christmas at a dinner theater for minimum wage.
someone who has spent nearly four years creating and developing this character of Connor Murphy, that means so much to so many people. with the care he took when embodying this character, from the research and outreach he’s done, he has become a voice, and a light in a dark place for so many of us.
thank you Mike Faist for showing us all that we still matter, and for giving us a reason to believe we’re not alone.
you deserve that tony for not only what you’ve done onstage, but for the care you’ve taken for your character and your fans outside of the show.
Ivy In Winter; View From My Mother’s Kitchen Window, Sandusky Ohio 2008
Limited edition 8x10 archival print up for auction today April 7 at Stivers School for the Arts in Dayton Ohio. Stivers is a public magnet school, grades 7-12. This auction benefits the photography program.
If I myself hadn’t gone to a high school with an advanced art & photography program, I might not have known that I was meant to pursue a career in photography. Kids need art programs! Consider contributing to a local arts program if you can.
As some of you may know, I go to college at Ohio state university. As some of you may have heard, there was a school shooting this morning.
So I guess the place to start is saying I’m safe. Luckily, I didn’t have a class this morning so I was in my dorm when the shooting occurred. The shooting took place right outside my dorm. I woke up to the sound of gun shots, and this email.
Apparently, one guy went in the building and pulled the fire alarm, and when everyone evacuated the shooter drove his car through the crowd, got out and started slashing at people with a machete, and then pulled out a gun. 9 people are hospitalized, thankfully only 1 in critical condition. This is a first hand account from someone there.
The shooter was killed. This is the view from my dorm window. It’s grainy, but you can see a dead body on the a white sheet surrounded by cones.
My friend was in a classroom directly across from the shooting. this is from his snapchat.
Police are still looking for the second accomplice. I haven’t left my dorm. I still have friends locked in their classrooms. This shouldn’t happen.
Urban Outfitters, you have outdone yourselves. Your “Eat Less” shirt was offensive. So was your “Depression” shirt. Your parody shirt with the Star of David that Jewish Holocaust victims were forced to wear was also sick and cruel. And now what? Now you are mocking a school shooting?
For some ungodly reason, Urban Outfitters thought this shirt would be funny.
If you don’t go to or have never been to Kent State, you’ve probably still heard about what happened on May 4, 1970. It didn’t directly affect me, but it was huge. It was a really big deal for our country and the war going on at the time.
In only thirteen seconds, sixty-seven rounds were fired through the air. Four unarmed students were shot and killed. It changed the history of a small town in Ohio forever. Kent State University would never be the same.
This shooting was featured in magazines (Time), newspapers (New York Times), movies (Born on the Fourth of July), and songs (Ohio). If you’ve never heard it, take a listen to Neil Young’s song “Ohio.” If you have heard it and never really paid attention, listen again. Pay attention. “Tin soldiers and Nixon’s coming. We’re finally on our own. This summer I hear the drumming. Four dead in Ohio.”
People were horrified. And we didn’t forget. Walking on campus by where these shooting took place is… eerie. Walking near where those students’ bodies dropped… is sad and… frightening. It happened right here. We see it everyday. We are reminded everyday.
There is an entire building dedicated to educating visitors about what happened that afternoon. People come from very far away to learn about this. People take pictures. There are signs and explanations.
This was a terrible day. Historical, but terrible. The fear the students and faculty felt must have been unimaginable. Some professors talk about it, what it was like to be here when it happened. Some were students themselves. It may have happened over forty years ago, but that doesn’t mean it is irrelevant. People were injured. People were killed.
And we think this sweater is trendy and cool? We think it’s hipster? This is a joke? Well, we aren’t laughing. Fuck you, Urban Outfitters! We are Kent State!
The first and second grade class at Huntington Twp. School, 1931. It would be great to be able to put some names with these faces! These little ones grew up during the Depression, and become young adults during WWII.
27. “Please shut up. I can’t stand how appealing your voice is.”
Working at the Riverdale Register for the summer wouldn’t have been so bad for one Betty Cooper. However, since her parents own said paper where they, read her mother, can watch her like a hawk, the situation was less than ideal.
The perpetual funk that she’s been in since the beginning of the summer only worsened when she caught her boyfriend of two months sucking faces with Ginger Lopez behind Pop’s yesterday night.
Needless to say, she’s now newly single, and her ex-boyfriend was in dire need of some serious dry cleaning in order remove the stains of strawberry milkshake from his shirt.
School will be starting again soon, so we’re looking at some old schools around Ross County. This is Mona Chapel one-room school, around 1920. The school was located near Chillicothe, Ohio at Cattail Road and Clarksburg Pike (now Route 207.)
- A road closes near your home. They’re putting in another roundabout. The roundabouts are growing in numbers, soon it’ll be time.
- The skyline or gold star debate continues. We all know the answer. We weep for the poor misguided souls of the damned.
- Mr. Redlegs’s face haunts your dreams. His lifeless baseball face smiles at you. You can never escape him.
- Chocolate buckeyes are the food of the gods. The sweet ambrosia graces your lips. You crave more. There is never enough.
- You’re a Bengals fan. They’re still terrible. You cry into your hands.
- Cincinnati is slowly becoming inaccessible. The roads close and never open again. Farewell Cincinnati.
- There’s corn. The corn stares into your soul. You can never escape the corn.
- Everyone keeps moving to Ohio. The schools are flooding, more houses are being built. Everywhere you go, there’s screaming. Why move here? Why would you come to corn Hell? Leave while you still can. L e a v e.