Discarding Racism

Prideful Symbols Become Signs of Hate.


Margo Dulny and Basima Khan

America, a country known for making progress in fighting against racism, recently witnessed a shocking event reflecting racist views in Charlottesville, Virginia. Several statues of generals and soldiers of the Confederate army during the Civil War were dismantled. The statues were taken down for the offensive representation of pro-slavery during the 1860s according to some Americans.

Olathe East drawing teacher, Tim Weible, focuses his time looking at how art evolves throughout history. He believes destroying art is a sign that new ways of life and culture takes turns throughout their time.

“Some of the art we have seen that has been destroyed [has] happened for thousands of years. Defacing of statues or art has been happening since the beginning of time. Usually when that happens, that’s a sign of change. I think if you look back at time, some of those changes were good changes,” Weible said.

Caine Kreimendahl, AP United States American History and Geography teacher, considers preserving history. All the same removing the statues would care for the community of people who find the monuments offensive.

“I understand the statutes are controversial. My main thing to avoid conflict would to do an outreach to the community saying to move them peacefully to a museum and have a history [display] on slavery,” Kreimendahl said.

Recently, Kansas City saw the nonviolent removal of a Daughters of the Confederacy memorial in Ward Parkway. This event proves delicate matters such as the removal of Confederate statues can be handled correctly. The incident in Charlottesville happened due to the weak communication between the governor and the public. Americans hold a responsibility of remaining informed about issues concerning the future of America.

“There was a situation in Kansas City Downtown there was a statue that was vandalized and that was peacefully removed because of the Daughters of the Confederacy. A group of people asked to remove it and it was removed peacefully. There were no protests so that proves it can be worked out peacefully.

I think education might have prevented some of the Alt-right,” said Kreimendahl.

Speech and Sophomore Pre-AP English teacher, Gretl Swyers, reasons the Robert E. Lee statue represents an ideal not necessarily hand-in-hand with the support of slavery.

“I think it is a part of our history and I think if people would do more research into Lee, they would probably find he chose to be a general for the South, basically to honor Virginia. It was more of that than it was him holding on to any love of slavery,” Swyers said.

The protesters who decided to take the violent direction do not represent all the Alt-Right protesters who remained against the removal of the Confederate memorials. Many reasons influenced the Alt-Right to keep the statues up; racism does not always motivate every person.

“We like to jump to the conclusion that it’s always racism. It doesn’t necessarily have to be racism, there could still be a lot of things going in to it,” said Swyers.

Regardless, the protesters against the removal of the Confederate statues, who do not hold racists beliefs, standing with people holding Neo-Nazi and Confederate flags, concerns our motives as a country.

“I’m comfortable to say that most of them are probably racists. Not all of them; there are Alt-Right just opposed to the government being involved in their lives. But there were clearly Neo-Nazis there, I don’t know how you can say a Neo-Nazi isn’t racist if they’re present. There were definitely racist issues and racists that were there,” Kreimendahl believes.

The majority of the American people this day and age find the existence of these hateful groups shocking. Many, probably, are unaware that groups as these still exist in this mindset. Racist incidents encourage American people to educate themselves about discriminatory groups still existing today.

“I think it’s a good wake up call for people. I think there’s a silent majority that would agree this is completely wrong. Those white supremacists have taken the Constitution and taken it to an extreme in order to fulfill their needs. [There is] freedom of speech and and I understand to a certain point. But hate for a person, it’s just arrogance,” Weible said.

Laws placed for protesters allow them to protest their beliefs but also remain safe. Typically, protesters stay a certain amount of distance away from each other. Two sides protesting and creating close contact leads to violence.

“You have two sides that are very passionate. When you get people that are so passionate, sometimes that can turn into violence. They really believed their ideologies and were close [to each other],” said Swyers.

Today in this age, protesting and debates applied to the freedom of speech our country consists of. People effectively lack face-to-face contact and the abilities to socialize in our society.

“I think that feelings are so tense right now and people have a difficult time expressing their beliefs, being heard, and other people have a hard time listening to people that don’t agree with them. I think we’ve come into a scary time in our history where you express an opinion and people just start shouting at you instead of listening to you. There’s less dialogue and more screaming,” said Swyers.

Racism will always exist, but the diminishment of prejudice certain people have towards others results in progress. Americans fight everyday to reduce racism within the country, and their efforts do bear fruits. However, people with discriminatory views still exist today. They do not represent the majority of Americans.

“I think it would be foolish to think it won’t ever be here. You are always going to have some form of racism and racists. I think it’s becoming less and less. People are definitely a lot more tolerant in the US,” Kreimendahl said.

Statistics show that racism has been displayed at Olathe East. It’s possible, that when students are displaying racism, they are unaware of what they are saying. Much of racism has to with ignorance or the misunderstanding of cultures.

“I’ve heard things that are certainly racist and I hear comments, and I don’t think the kids mean anything hateful by it and I haven’t seen but they may be saying some things similar. They are not educated on certain subjects. They may say certain things that are racist and they may not feel that way but maybe they are saying it just to say it,” said Kreimendahl.

A survey was given to Olathe East students containing questions about prejudice and encountering racism at Olathe East.

Kindness and a respectful attitude combats racism. Reacting to hatred with violence is not the answer to curing racism in the hearts of people. Violence only results in more violence. Deciding to take a violent route is not the solution to fix a particular problem. It only makes the situation worse.

“Racism won’t cease to exist. There will always be hate, but we cannot drive out the hate with more hate,” said one survey taker.

“I think we’re seeing that [violence] way too much. Like with Black Lives Matter, we’re obviously seeing it in this case, we’re seeing protests in Berkeley and they don’t want someone to speak on campus and so they come out with this violent protests where they’re crashing windows, so no, violence is not good,” Swyers believes.

More violence will result in the rise of complications between opposing sides. The opposing sides will fiercely hold onto their opinions and beliefs, even more so than before, communication will lessen and misunderstandings will increase between the opposing sides.

“I think it’s going to spark the two groups becoming more defiant to their own attitudes and beliefs. When you go back to the issue of the statue being brought down, I don’t think that’s going to change anyone’s opinion. I think people are more firmly in their camp and probably moving farther away from any significant solid dialogue,” Swyers said. “When dialogues end, problems begin.”

Racist or not, preserving history or not, Confederate statues of generals fighting for slavery creates an abominable image of America and represents an offensive display to other groups and cultures in America. Museums, history books, historical documents, paintings, and other evidence still preserve the history our country knows, and helps us overcome the painful events in the past.

“These statues represent leaders of a movement rooted in racism and hatred, and do not represent what America stands for,” said one survey response.


Margo Dulny // Staff Writer

Basima Khan // Staff Writer