A monument to white supremacy stands uncontested in our own back yard

What, if anything, are we going to do about it?

The Emancipation Memorial in Washington, D.C. An exact replica sits in Boston's Lincoln Square.

The Emancipation Memorial in Washington, D.C. An exact replica sits in Boston's Lincoln Square.

After Charlottesville and amidst the debate over statues of Lee, Davis and other confederate monuments, I came across an image of the Emancipation Memorial in Washington, D.C. The striking monument features a stately Abraham Lincoln standing over an unnamed, nearly-naked black man who is kneeling at his feet. Newly emancipated, the man’s shackles have been broken, but its manacles still decorate his wrists. Lincoln’s left arm is extended over the man’s head, ostensibly bestowing freedom upon him. Yet, Lincoln’s hand is facing downward as one would when tousling a child’s hair, or worse, petting an animal. Indeed, at just the right angle, that’s exactly as it appears.

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For my friends in the field of education...

I can't sugar coat this one. This is bad. Like, worst case scenario bad. 

Our country has suffered a major setback, the ramifications of which we'll be dealing with for at least the next four years. We're still in shock and fearful of what this means for ourselves, our families and our students. 

It's natural for us to take a beat while we come to terms with the results of this election. But the time will come, and soon, for us to get up, dust ourselves off and get back in the fight. 

Too many of our students are counting on us to support and stand with them, and they're going to need us now more than ever. 

Make no mistake, this new president will rescind executive orders and DOE/DOJ directives that protect undocumented students, gender nonconforming students, students of color, and so many others. And then there's SCOTUS, where he'll name at least one alt-right justice taking aim at Roe v. Wade. 

Like I told you, worst case scenario. 

But there are few better positioned than us to fight back and resist these measures. Those of us with a social justice pedigree have always known that systemic oppression was real, but what right minded person can deny it now? 

The fact is, many will continue to deny this reality, and it's up to us to challenge them. It's up to us to amplify our students' voices and advocate for more inclusive environments. It's up to us, because that's just what we do. 

I, for one, am not running off to Canada. I'll be right here, resisting, speaking out and standing up for those who need it most. But none of us can do it alone. Let's stand together, my friends. 

The resistance begins today.

This is what inclusive leadership looks like

How much does it cost to remove an historic symbol of racism from your campus? At Vanderbilt, the figure has been set at $1.2 million. Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos recently announced that the Nashville-based university was paying that sum to the United Daughters of the Confederacy to rename Confederate Memorial Hall to simply, Memorial Hall. 

This follows similar steps by Georgetown, Yale, Stanford, Oregon and other institutions that are considering or have already acquiesced to student demands to rename streets and buildings on their campuses. These changes have been made despite pushback at what some see as political correctness run amok.

Nonsense. There is a place to memorialize the Confederacy – in a museum. Props to the alumni who recognized that and paid the $1.2 million to move Vanderbilt into modern times.

Oppression wears a smile

I was reminded recently that oppression wears a smile. It doesn’t sneer or condescend, like you might expect. Nah. It pats you on the back, asks how you’re doing, and proceeds to ignore your response.

If it did listen, it would understand the tremendous damage it’s done to you and those you love. Instead, it smiles and nods and daydreams while you talk. That’s why it’s always so surprised when you speak out, when you protest, when you riot.

When it does engage, it ignores heartfelt pleas, logical arguments, and academic research. It’s immune to facts and figures – viewing disparities as coincidences. It knows nothing of history, except what it chooses to remember.

It always favors the status quo, couching everything in an argument for the greater good. It’s obsessed with fairness, but has zero understanding of equity.

It votes republican and democrat.

Mostly, it wants you to believe that it doesn’t exist, except in some abstract form. But, if corporations are people, so is oppression. We study, work, and chill with it on the daily. It’s so ubiquitous that, exhausted from resisting, we often allow it to ignore us. Check that. We allow *them* to ignore us.

These are not abstract beings. They are the people in our spheres of influence, and they go by many names – friends, co-workers, acquaintances.

We allow them to turn their heads when a mirror is set in front of them. We allow their ignorant views to persist, despite clear evidence to the contrary. We allow them to minimize our struggle. Shit, we allow them to minimize us. And we do so at our own peril.

Oppression is sinister in its indifference. Your resistance to it is warranted, and necessary.