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Intersection of Life and Faith

Can We Make Racial Progress While Holding to "Heritage-Not-Hate"?

Steven Harris

"Opinions abound on how to correctly historicize the 19th century particularly. As a budding historian, I've read a number of works, probably more than the average person, on the Confederacy, on the Civil War, on individuals who were in leadership and their particular ideologies and world views that they held, and what they were actually seeking to protect. There are a number of monographs and historiographies very rich in this area, so I'm not trying to ostensibly trying to represent the only position."

"But I am partial to the difficulty in seeking to separate what was, as one writer called, 'the peculiar institution of slavery and it's tetheredness to the Southern Confederacy.' You certainly have quotes of individuals explicitly stating that one of the things that we're seeing to protect in this fight is our peculiar institution, this economic system that we have arranged, that will place Africans on a lower tier as property to be owned, that's less than human, to support an economic system of benefit, not towards them but towards their white owners.

It's very difficult to separate that system from that 'Southern heritage.' Many take a different path of trying... many have a different historical imagination of that moment, and there are certainly probably sources that would support that. But on the whole, the things that I've read personally make that a very difficult task, just because that way of life systematized as normative the dehumanization of an entire people.

For me, I'm always trying to step out of my own shoes and trying to rationally consider if there was part of a history or heritage that I was seeking to try to celebrate or remember positively that had any kind of proximity to an institution like that. I would have been moved to let it go and run from it as quickly as I could... ust because of the fact that particularly as a Christian, my identity is rooting in something so much more meaningful, and something so much more hopeful than something that has been tainted, if I'm being charitable, by a proximity to a system that literally denied and disavowed the image of God and those who did and do bear his image."

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