Can America break up with the Confederacy? (Ford, 2021)
Recently, I was asked to watch and reflect on the new film, The Neutral Ground, featuring comedian C.J. Hunt and documentary filmmaker Darcy McKinnon. The film chronicles the local fight over what to do with four Confederate monuments that stood in prominent, public spaces in New Orleans. Ultimately, all of the monuments came down, but not without a series of contentious city council meetings, protest, and counter-protests. The Neutral Ground begins with a simple question: why. Why do so many Americans still cling to a fabricated history and its artifacts.
Here's some of what I said about the film:
The Neutral Ground is not just a story about New Orleans and its monuments. It is not just a story about how the Lost Cause came to stifle the way generations of Americans remember the Civil War and chattel slavery, and their legacies. And though Hunt and McKinnon seamlessly tie New Orleans and the Lost Cause with more recent happenings in Charlottesville and across the country after the murder of George Floyd, it is not just a story about this moment of reckoning that is, at least, challenging conventional thinking about the enduring impact of systemic racism on America. It is also a story about Black people, a story that says Black people were here too, that their lives matter too, that what they have said, done, and been made to experience should be included in the way we, as a nation, remember and tell our history.
Read the full essay here.