By Glenn Henry
Dear Fellow Southern White and Black Citizens,
We must have an honest discussion about race, based on our own individual and personal experiences. As a 63-year old African-American my perspective is different than most persons of color. The following are my personal beliefs, opinions and viewpoints about our South, that I Love.
First, as Southerners we must stop allowing ourselves to become the “Whipping Boy” for the whole United States. We are not America’s “Misfits,” based on my personal experiences, being raised in Beaufort, North Carolina.
In the first and second grades, I attended an all-black Queen Street School. In the third grade, about seven students, including my brother and I, had the voluntary opportunity, to attend the all-white Beaufort Elementary School.
The mayor of Beaufort correctly advised my parents that everything will be fine. We already had white friends and playmates, prior to attending the school. My great grandparents, grandparents and parents never displayed, nor taught us to hold, any animosity toward white persons, although, slavery, the Confederacy, civil rights and voting rights have occurred.
Most persons in my family made great decisions, and they have earned and obtained pretty much everything they wanted from life, and our great country.
During high school I was allowed the opportunity to become a school bus driver in the 11th and 12th grades. I would pick up my fellow classmates and drive everyone to school. The governors were set at 35 miles per hour.
In Carteret County, North Carolina, many white persons, who are tied to Southern Confederate roots, would invite me to travel on their sailing boats, shrimp trawlers, scallop boats, deep sea fishing vessel, and channel fishing boats—free of charge- along with free training, setting bluecrab pots, finding oysters and clams.
I retired from the U.S. Air Force at the age of 36 years old and I had numerous opportunities. Saw the world, and earned numerous university degrees Including a master’s degree, some post masters level education specialist degree credits, and earned numerous doctoral -level courses in Public Administration.
I have owned numerous businesses, taught high school, and I have been a newspaper columnist and a university adjunct professor. I have earned numerous certifications. Presently, I’m a Certified Professional Ethical Hacker.
In Alabama, a white commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans helped me to start a vending business, while working on my master’s degree. After having 25 vending locations including numerous post offices and businesses I had the opportunity to get another location for a new business that was under new construction.
The white owners stated I could have the business as long as I placed all new machines in place. I explained this to the commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The commander ordered the machines for me, and he said pay me back whenever you can- without any contract or agreement in writing.
I paid him back in 3 months. I offered him the location, since I didn’t have the $5000 in my pocket at the time. I didn’t want to go into debt for any of the machines. I have never had any of my own Black Folks, help me in this manner.
I often and wrongly hear from others, about how bad the Sons of Confederate Veterans are, and how terrible, the Confederate Flag may be. In contrast, numerous Southern Confederates allowed me to fish on their property in South Montgomery, who said you can fish on my property whenever you like. Just make sure the gate is locked when you leave. Bass and catfish were so huge, I had to often just back up and drag the fish on the bank to preclude losing the catch.
I can guarantee white and black Southerners a few things. Based on my upbringing, experiences, and my love for you, and my love of the South, I will never make white persons feel guilty, based on their history, and their heritage. I will never make them turn pink, nor cause them to turn red, or make them blush, or feel embarrassed based on their parents and their ancestry.
I have no scores to settle with white persons. During my lifetime, I have never been unemployed, never been on welfare, and I have never drawn an unemployment check.
A new wrong, and maligned new normal today, appears to be, all or nothing, on any issue. Most damaging today, numerous whites are being pressured to think one way, or be wrongly labeled as racists. For example, concerning kneeling during the National Anthem, or hearing whites real and honest opinion concerning the Confederate Flag. I don’t argue with white people if their beliefs, views, opinions and thoughts differ from mine. By the way we are not going to get 100 percent agreement on any issue anyway.
Recently, some famous persons, have gotten themselves in hot water, just for stating their honest opinions, then changing their opinion to group think, after being criticized. If we continue along these same lines, our freedom of speech will be exterminated. Our individual free expressions, thoughts, and beliefs will be rendered, only through coercion and threats of others, which doesn’t allow a Republic, nor Democracy.
While a huge percent of our citizenry agree police reforms, are needed, and each law enforcement person committing crimes must face the court system for justice.
Much of the piling on is occurring and is being fueled by, the upcoming elections in November. The piling on are the numerous issues that fall outside police reforms, which are the main issues. Now all issues going back to slavery are being placed on the table for argument and debate.
On both sides of the aisle we are seeing polling data and arguments that can’t be validated. None of the sides are providing all factors measured, because they know we will be able to use our scientific calculators to figure out what they have done.
Many of my fellow Soul Brothers, and my fellow Soul Sisters, will not write a column, stating positive truths about Southern whites. They are afraid someone will call them Honorary White Man, Uncle Tom, or Aunt Sue.
In closing, as white and black Southerners, we must ensure that we are no longer identified as the “Whipping Boy” and portrayed as America’s “Misfits.” In my eyes, our Southerners can do no wrong. Our Southerners of 2020 are awesome. The Southern white man taught me how to fish. Today, all I need is a match, for my fish and seafood fry.