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Controversy over Confederate monuments, 'an indicator of how far we still have to go,' says Virginia Tech expert

July 6, 2017

Brandy Faulkner is interviewed in the Virginia Tech Media Relations Broadcast Studio.

Brandy Faulkner is interviewed in the Virginia Tech Media Relations Broadcast Studio.
Brandy Faulkner is interviewed in the Virginia Tech Media Relations Broadcast Studio.

Tensions connected to the controversy of Confederate monuments have long festered without adequate mechanisms for moving forward, said Virginia Tech race and public policy expert Brandy Faulkner. “If anything, this is an indicator of how far we still have to go in pursuit of racial equality in this country,” she said.

Watch video interview with Brandy Faulkner: https://vimeo.com/223292004

Quoting Faulkner

“At no point in history has the fight for racial equality not caused backlash. Those who have remained on the front lines of this fight acknowledge it and expect that it will occur. It doesn't always occur in the same way. At times, the backlash has come in the form of lynchings and mass murder. At other times it has resulted in mass incarceration and economic oppression.”

“In many ways, the black community itself often fails to understand the extent to which racial hatred and oppression affects its members psychologically. Whether the attack comes in the form of microaggressions, such as prominently displaying symbols of racial oppression as public monuments, on vehicles, or on clothing or macroaggressions, such as acts of state violence that continue to claim lives, we deal with some level of racial hostility consistently.”

“Certainly there are relics that make us uncomfortable but serve as opportunities to explore the errors of history. The appropriate places for these relics are museums, archives, and libraries, not public parks and state houses. Preserving the lessons of the past is an important educational goal. However, it cannot come at the expense of the human dignity of marginalized groups.”

“We must engage in open and honest discussion about our past and its effect on our present and on our future. Our obligation is to acknowledge the pain and suffering caused by our controversial history and then do our very best to rectify it. Just because the monuments are eliminated doesn't mean our discussions have to be. We have an opportunity to build better and more inclusive narratives that consider the lived experiences of all people.”

About Faulkner

Brandy Faulkner's areas of specialization include constitutional and administrative law, race and public policy, and critical organization theory. She teaches courses in public administration, constitutional law, administrative law, research methods, and the politics of race, ethnicity, and gender. View her full bio here.

Schedule an interview

To secure an interview, email Ceci Leonard or call 540-357-2500 in the Media Relations office.

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