I see color.

One of the greatest gifts my parents ever gave me was when I started school at Wingate Elementary in 1971. A couple of years earlier the public schools in Union County had become integrated. There was uncertainty and anxiety in the Marshville and Wingate community. I only learned about the racial unrest during that time as an adult. My parents gave no indication that integrated schools were a brand new idea. As a child I saw color. I understood that I didn’t look like everyone and everyone didn’t look like me. I liked that. My parents never talked to me about my white heritage. Neither set of my grandparents (Anson County and Union County) talked to me about my white heritage. They did talk about hard work, integrity and kindness.

Fast forward to August 2017 and Charlottesville and torches. Until this past weekend I never gave much thought to flags or statues. My interest as an adult has been on public policy and laws that reward work and promote justice and equality. My labor on these issues is very much aligned with my spiritual beliefs. The discussions on symbols like flags and statues always struck me as tangential — distractions to issues that I deemed much more important.

Charlottesville has opened my eyes. Southern white heritage? I honor my heritage by speaking out against white supremacists. I honor my heritage by speaking out against Neo Nazis. It is time for the Confederate monuments to find their place in a museum. We need to remember this time in our history. We do not need to honor it.

The Nazi flag dishonors every person who has ever served in the United States Military. It has no place in a public venue. Finally, the confederate flag gives me no pride. It is a symbol that is hurtful to my African American friends. If it hurts them it hurts me.

I see color.

Kim Hargett

Marshville, N.C.