@korenni I’m so glad you mentioned what’s going on in Memphis. I remember visiting the Civil Rights Museum on a field trip in the 4th grade, and at the exit of the museum, there’s a statue showing people climbing to the top of a mountain, but no one yet crests the top. The tour guide explained that it was a metaphor for the progress that black Americans had forged for themselves in society, but work was still to be done because racism continues to be an issue and full equality has not yet been achieved. This was such a shock to little white me-- I was like, what do you mean, it’s not over?? It was so poignant that I remember it so vividly into adulthood.
But as a fellow Tennessean, I’m still appalled at how far we have to go as a state. Places like Memphis and my hometown of Nashville are increasingly acknowledging the dark legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. My family lives in the same neighborhood as that ugly ass Nathan Bedford Forrest statue along I-65, and we drive by it nearly every day. I’m glad someone defaced it (although, if I have a bone to pick about the defacement, it’s the use of the color pink. I think red to symbolize the blood that man has on his hands, instead of pink, a color associated with the “feminine” in our culture, thereby intending to insult his image by “negating” his masculinity).
However, there is still a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest on display at the state Captitol building in Nashville. Like, really, what the hell?? There are other things we can do better at as a state, as well. I went to undergrad at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and the city has the now-lovely Walnut Street Bridge with a dark, dark history. Two black men were lynched on the bridge, but casual passers-by would never, ever know it, because there are no plaques on or near the bridge recounting this.
It’s not just a Southern problem, either. I now live in LA, where the Santa Anita racetrack was once a holding center for Japanese Americans on the way to internment camps in WWII. According to this article from the LA Times: “A plaque near the entrance on the sprawling grounds of the Santa Anita racetrack is the sole reminder of the track’s place in World War II history as the nation’s largest assembly center for Japanese Americans on their way to internment camps.” So I think this is getting back to @tralfamadore 's point, that places like Dachau show how Germany as a nation is trying to fully recognize and atone for its history. Here, we largely just try to “move on.” Places like the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis and the Japanese American National Museum in LA absolutely help and are cornerstones of historical understanding in this country, but you have to take it upon yourself to visit these places to fully realize the histories of the places you may walk by every day. So I’m really glad to hear of Memphis’s lynching memorial initiative. It’s way overdue.