Newswise — What place do Confederate statues and symbols have in society today? The question has triggered national debate and continues to fuel political clashes across the country.
Riché Richardson, associate professor of African American literature at Cornell University, researches the public dialogue about controversial symbols, including lingering Confederate symbolism. Richardson says the display of Confederate monuments and other emblems on college campuses should be rethought because it forces black and minority students to revisit a painful past.
“It’s sad that yet another tragedy has now been linked to this symbolism in Charlottesville, which underscores the urgency of seriously grappling with the monuments, recognizing their detrimental impact and rethinking their display. However, it is important to recognize that this issue is not just about Confederate monuments.
“American higher education was birthed in slavery, so many other emblems on campuses also reflect this painful past and routinely do psychic violence to black and other minority students. The tragedy in Charlottesville underscores the importance of not conflating free speech and hate speech on campuses, and of ensuring that all students feel welcome and safe.”