It is an extraordinary truth of my life that I am biologically more than half white, and yet I have no white people in my genealogy in living memory. I am proof that whatever else the South might have been, or might believe itself to be, it was and is a space whose prosperity and sense of romance and nostalgia were built upon the grievous exploitation of black life. You Want a Confederate Monument? And here’s our email: They deny plantation rape, or explain it away, or question the degree of frequency with which it occurred. Such children were born into slavery, through an American legal doctrine known as partus sequitur ventrem. A monument-worthy memory. According to the rule of hypodescent (the social and legal practice of assigning a genetically mixed-race person to the race with less social power) I am the daughter of two black people, the granddaughter of four black people, the great-granddaughter of eight black people. Content is available under CC BY-SA 3.0 unless otherwise noted. My blackness does not put me on the other side of anything. Born and raised in Nashville Tennessee, Harvard graduate Caroline Randall Williams is an award-winning poet, young adult novelist, and cookbook author as well as an activist, public intellectual, performance artist, and scholar. Examples are Archibald and Francis Grimké, and Jefferson's children by Sally Hemings. The black people I come from were owned by the white people I come from. It is a pride that says, “Our history is rich, our causes are justified, our ancestors lie beyond reproach.” It is a pining for greatness, if you will, a wish again for a certain kind of American memory. Yes, I am proud of every one of my black ancestors who survived slavery. Mulatto children of slave women and white men, often via rape, Plantation agriculture in the Southeastern United States, Slavery in the colonial history of the United States, History of sexual slavery in the United States, Enslaved women's resistance in the United States and Caribbean, "You Want a Confederate Monument? They earned that pride, by any decent person’s reckoning. You cannot say it wasn’t my family members who fought and died. I come from Confederates. The black people I come from were owned and raped by the white people I come from. To those people it is my privilege to say, I am proof. They imagine a world of benevolent masters, and speak with misty eyes of gentility and honor and the land. Any manufactured monument to that time in that place tells half a truth at best. My Body Is a Confederate Monument, growing clamor from serious, nonpartisan public servants. Who dares to tell me to celebrate them? Caroline Randall Williams (@caroranwill) is the author of “Lucy Negro, Redux” and “Soul Food Love,” and a writer in residence at Vanderbilt University. My skin is a monument. The white people I come from fought and died for their Lost Cause. What is a monument but a standing memory? Alex Haley's Queen: The Story of an American Family (1993) is a historical novel, later a movie, that brought knowledge of the "children of the plantation" to public attention. Who dares to ask me to accept their mounted pedestals? It puts me squarely at the heart of the debate. If there are those who want to remember the legacy of the Confederacy, if they want monuments, well, then, my body is a monument. I’ve got rebel-gray blue blood coursing my veins. I am a great-great-granddaughter. NASHVILLE — I have rape-colored skin. She joined the faculty of Vanderbilt University in the Fall of 2019 as a Writer-in-Residence in the Department of Medicine, Health, and Society while she continues to work and speak to the places where art, business, and scholarship intersect, moving people closer to their best lives and corporations closer to their ideal identities. Dead Confederates are honored all over this country — with cartoonish private statues, solemn public monuments and even in the names of United States Army bases. I don’t just come from the South. Voluntary. The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. There is, however, a peculiar model of Southern pride that must now, at long last, be reckoned with. I say it is not a matter of “airbrushing” history, but of adding a new perspective. My light-brown-blackness is a living testament to the rules, the practices, the causes of the Old South. The ideas and ideals it purports to honor are not real. Named by Southern Living as “One of the 50 People changing the South,” the Cave Canem fellow has been published and featured in multiple journals, essay collections and news outlets, including The Iowa Review, The Massachusetts Review, CherryBombe, Garden and Gun, Essence and the New York Times. She has spoken in twenty states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and West Virginia, in venues that range from as small as a classroom in a neighborhood school to as large as the Superdome mainstage during Essence Fest.