Symbols develop meaning through social use, conversation, and definition. The symbols in the South commemorating the Civil War, regardless of the original intent (which was very racist), stand as symbols for memorilizing those who enslaved and profited from the labor of black Americans in the nineteenth century. These symbols have been used, and maybe misappropriated, by racists throughout the nation. Black Americans were never part of the conversations surrounding the meaning and creation of these icons. Regardless of what these icons were, they are now symbols of slavery, symbols that represent oppression (and America (U.S.) is full of these symbols). If we want to keep these memorials, maybe we should surround them with images of the those who were incarcerated for nothing more than the color of their skin. Maybe we should commemorate the largest slave revolt in America that happened just outside New Orleans. But, of course, this will cause ‘tension.’ This ‘tension’ has not been settled, but we are beginning to see conversations over the contemporary meaning of the symbols rise to the surface. What matters now, is who dominates these conversations… the media?
Below is an article written by a professor at the University of New Orleans and a PhD. candidate. I appreciate their argument, but I disagree.