Not to be offensive to anyone’s views but yesterday was the first time in my life where the take down of the Civil War monuments really hit home. I was doing what I always do and what I always love doing: giving back to my community. Once a week I enjoy volunteering at a shelter and sanctuary for displaced families. Out of respect to the shelter I will not state its name but their mission is to help women and children in New Orleans by providing an “open and empowering” home along with “resource coordination for a safe space to transition into sustainable housing.”
Yesterday I went to help out with Arts & Crafts and to play some games and sports with the kids. After playing a debilitating and unsuccessful game of Clue with an 8 year old and his 5 year old brother (if you are ever in a similar situation don’t play Clue with an 8 year old and a 5 year old when half of the amount of cards necessary are lost) I decided to say we should play some basketball outside.
Before going into the conversation that transpired next I am going to put some context into all of this. If you are unaware of what has been going on recently, New Orleans, and rightfully so, has begun the process of taking down some of its Civil War monuments. This has created major uproar as well as conflict between big proponents and opponents of the monuments being taken down. I mean big conflict. A multitude of arrests, guns, barricades, police officers, it has been absolute madness.
The shelter I volunteer at is located in the New Orleans neighborhood known as Mid City. Mid City is home to some awesome people, restaurants, bars and the infamous Jefferson Davis monument. The shelter I volunteer at is a Tom Brady screen pass away from said monument. I had read on the news that all of this chaos had been going down but to drive right by it during the early stages of the saga on my way to the shelter was completely eye opening. I must have saw 10 police cars, double the amount of guns and quadruple the amount of protesters. I essentially said “oh my god” and then brushed the situation aside.
Back to playing basketball outside with the little kids, they didn’t want to go outside because there were “guys with guns outside”. My heart honestly stopped for a second. These sweet, innocent, little kids were too afraid to walk outside of their own homes because some backwards rednecks are willing to bring rifles to protect a monument celebrating what was literally a bigoted, racist traitor who should have been tried for treason. I tried explaining to the boys that we were safe and the men weren’t out to harm them. Maybe when the boys are old enough and understand what those monuments truly represent- the Confederacy and the brutally violent and tragic decades that followed during the Jim Crow era and Segregated South- will they remember a white 22 year old explaining that it’s safe to play outside of their own home which happened to be located a stones throw away from the Jefferson Davis monument. And still, in 2017, these issues are happening. Look no further than the incident at Fenway Park two nights ago.