Do you have any idea just how racist a person has to be to turn down money if accepting it might serve the cause of racial justice?
I mean, think about it.
People like money. And you can’t blame them. Money is really helpful.
Unlike with, say, cryptocurrency, you can pay for lots of things with it. And not just stupid things you can show off on Instagram, like Lambos and certain brands of expensive watches, but important things.
Like a mortgage, groceries, or needed medicine.
Though obsessing over money is unhealthy, money itself is a valuable tool. And it’s the rare person who, given a chance to make a bunch of it doing the job they already do, would turn up their nose and walk away, leaving all that money on the table.
I mean, perhaps they would if the job opportunity or contract involved something immoral, sure.
Like, for instance, if an artist were offered $100,000 to create a sculpture of, say, Ted Bundy or Charles Manson, I’m guessing most would pass.
Or Hitler. Or Stalin. Or Pol Pot.
You get the idea.
Likewise, I suspect most accountants aren’t like Marty Byrde on Ozark. Most would refuse to money launder for a drug cartel, not just because they don’t want to go to jail or get murdered if they screw up, but because most people think drug cartels are pretty unsavory, and they’d rather not contribute to their success.
But what about the opportunity to make a bunch of money — good, solid income for you and your business — by removing statues of racists who waged war on your country in the name of white supremacy?
Is taking those statues down akin to putting one of Tim McVeigh up?
Is that the kind of job that a person who likes and needs money would nonetheless turn down on principle?
Apparently, the answer is yes, because that’s what happened in Virginia.
Faced with the task of removing Confederate memorials from their places of honor — the result of decisions made after the 2017 white supremacist march in Charlottesville and then the murder of George Floyd — Virginia, and various localities therein, had to find contractors able and ready to do the work.
And when it came to the white male contracting companies they would usually turn to for big jobs like this — the old boy’s network for municipal contracts being among the strongest in existence — none were willing to take the gigs.
Think about that: dozens of statues to be removed, lots of money to be earned, and work for your employees.
Yet, you say no. You’ll pass. Thanks, but no thanks.
You are so racist — so wedded to the Neo-Confederate Lost Cause mythology represented by those statues — that you would rather suffer economically than remove them. They mean that much to you: Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, along with several lesser-known Confederate luminaries.
The thought of taking such statuary down was, to white Virginia contractors, so injurious that they could not do it, even as the combined value of the contracts to remove these worship altars to white domination has come to, wait for it…
1.8 million dollars, just for the Richmond-based statues alone, to say nothing of those in Charlottesville and elsewhere.
Their commitment to long-dead white supremacists was so great, in fact, that they willingly forfeited the work to a Black-owned business, Team Henry Enterprises, owned and operated by Devon Henry.
Henry, who has now removed about two dozen such monuments in Virginia and North Carolina, has made all that money and, in the process, grown his business dramatically, scaling up to 200 employees after having begun 15 years ago with only four.
While doing the work, Henry has been subjected to the bigotries of white Virginians repeatedly.
Crowds have jeered and taunted his work crews. Callers have threatened him. When he took down a statue of Stonewall Jackson at the Virginia Military Institute, his crew was pelted by fried chicken.
Even white subcontractors have been too racist to work with Henry on the statue removal.
When one company agreed to provide a crane large enough to remove the incredibly heavy memorials, the representative who had OK’d the plan was overridden by his father, who threatened to remove his son from the business altogether if he didn’t withdraw.
There is a white man in Virginia, y’all — a respected businessman — who would essentially disown his child rather than allow that child to bring in a contract to help remove statues of dead racists.
So much for the market theory that we are all rational economic actors looking to maximize utility or some such bullshit.
Nope, white supremacy dictates that when it comes to challenging racists, we’d rather just light money on fire.
After the subcontractor pulled out, and in a bit of cosmic justice, Henry had to turn to a company in Connecticut to finally provide the crane.
Which all goes to show two things: first, that a lot of white folks are more committed to their racism than their bank accounts, and second, that white southerners are still getting beaten by Black folks and yankees.
As it should be, and always will.
This post was previously published on MEDIUM.COM.
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