I will not hold that shoe.

Rallying against racist rhetoric in recent months, I’ve heard “welcome to the south.” To that I said, “my south is not your south.”

Gene Patterson is the reason I finished my college degree, and later went on to be accepted into a Masters program at St. Edward’s University. Without his faith in my abilities it would not have happened. I had incredible grandparents, and a wonderful great uncle and aunt in Gene and Sue. Their debates over the dining table as I was growing up taught me much about grace and healthy discourse.
 patterson-poynter
Rallying against racist rhetoric in recent months, I’ve heard “welcome to the south.” To that I said, “my south is not your south.” This gentle man, from rural Adel, Georgia, with his soft southern accent, his empathy, and his strong will to see change where there was injustice, taught me that.

He wrote in his unflinching article “A Flower for the Graves” about the bombing which killed 4 young girls at a church in Birmingham, AL in 1963:

“We — who go on electing politicians who heat the kettles of hate.

We — who raise no hand to silence the mean and little men who have their nigger jokes.

We — who stand aside in imagined rectitude and let the mad dogs that run in every society slide their leashes from our hand, and spring.

We — the heirs of a proud South, who protest its worth and demand it recognition — we are the ones who have ducked the difficult, skirted the uncomfortable, caviled at the challenge, resented the necessary, rationalized the unacceptable, and created the day surely when these children would die.”

Basically, Gene said, as Southerners who enabled racism, we had to own those murders. I’ve been saying something along the same lines the last six months. Steve Bannon, KKK endorsements, hateful, xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic, and racist rhetoric, by the president-elect, are causing us to slide backwards to a time we should not be proud of in American history.

The president-elect’s supporters need to own their part in that regression. Not saying anything would make me every bit the enabler the “heirs of a proud South” were to the bombers of that Birmingham church 50 years ago.

So, I will harp on. I will continue to be vocal about the dangers of someone like Steve Bannon having access and influence over our future president. I will call bullshit on fake news, rationalization, and normalization of things which we should abhor. I will remind you, we can’t sit idly by and accept this. Whether or not you agree with me, I will probably annoy you at some point.

What I won’t do, is say nothing. I will not hold that shoe. (Read Gene’s full article here – http://www.poynter.org/2013/a-flower-for-the-graves/4761/).

Congratulations to my Uncle Gene for being recognized and inducted into the 2016 Atlanta Press Club Hall of Fame (another accolade to add to his legacy). I wish he could have been with us for this moment of recognition. However, a part of me is glad he isn’t here to witness the direction our country is taking.

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