evergreen…

April 8, 2007

i can’t even begin to understand the history of this city i live in. i was almost disgusted by it when i first came here from miami.
i knew we were moving to the south, but i had no idea that this was still so THE SOUTH.
i can vivdly remember coming home from the store during that very first week in utter shock.
jorge, do you know they still fly the dixie flag here?”

i was dumbfounded sitting at parties and listening to college educated people from my generation explain in detail how the civil war was not about slavery. it seems to me it doesn’t really matter, the south held on tight to slavery, some are still holding on to the injustice even today.

i don’t like the history so i found myself trying to ignore it altogether. i would ride down monument ave rolling my eyes at the impressive statues. my side of town was everything confederate, i just couldn’t bring myself to accept any of it. it was all too dark. there was nothing to accept really, it just was.

i could not however ignore the racial divide in richmond. it makes me sad, but how can it be any other way? i want to say i understand but how can a white girl of privilege ever understand? sometimes i have questions i want to ask my african american friends but i feel sheepish and am not really sure where to begin. i fear my possible ignorance will somehow overshadow the intent of my heart.
i can barely wrap my head around the idea that my race, possibly my very ancestors took a group of people from their continent, from their land, from their home. their choices, their freedoms, it appeared the very essence of being human was completely stripped and yet an entire race found a way to overcome.

there is such shame, such sadness, such regret that my family did this to yours. it makes me feel helpless that i am unable to change the past and embarrassed that i don’t always know what to do about the future. i find myself just wanting to say i am so deeply sorry, and keep saying it over and over again, in my words, in my actions, in my life. i need to hear your stories, to hear your history, to be quiet and listen to even those beyond the grave.

it was snowy and quiet this morning. we went to visit the evergreen cemetery. i have no desire to ignore this past. there was a sea of green going further than my eyes could see. the forest has covered every inch trying to hide the history just under the surface. the ivy attempts to choke out the honor left on headstones of those who paved a way for so many but guys like clay simply won’t allow it. he stands watch along with coffee and cigarettes, he rummages around not knowing where to begin yet still befriending the dead.

we just wander around literally tripping over grave stones. jorge stops after every stumble and clears the green so just the top of the stone can feel the light of the sun. he falls behind as there are too many to keep up. the injustice continues, and i am left wondering if it will ever end…

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