Bob Herbert has an excellent Op-Ed in today’s New York Times. His focus is on South Carolina. And given that I’m teaching a visual media course in which we’re discussing the use of non-fiction films to address issues of racial injustice, I was particularly struck by Herbert’s mention of the documentary, “Corridor of Shame,” about racial disparities in the South Carolina educational system. I’ll have to add that one to my list of films to see.
“A statue of Tillman …. is on prominent display outside the statehouse. … A mortal enemy of black people, he bragged that he and his followers had disenfranchised “as many as we could,” and he publicly defended the murder of blacks.
In a speech on the Senate floor, he declared:
‘We of the South have never recognized the right of the negro to govern white men, and we never will. We have never believed him to be the equal of the white man, and we will not submit to his gratifying his lust on our wives and daughters without lynching him.’
Real change is more than problematic in a state so warped by its past that it can continue to officially admire a figure like Tillman.”
Much of the MLK-holiday-themed rhetoric would have us believe that we’re past “that kind” of racism, but when monuments to Tillman still stand and when white supremacists still march (even when outnumbered), it seems to me that this type of racism is part of the fabric of this society, rather than a regional or historical aberration.