NOTE: This story was posted by Erich Cross on his Facebook page on August 20th, 2017 and is printed here with his permission.
To say that a picture is worth 1000 words is an understatement in this case and this was taken by a photographer while I was out on a story yesterday dealing with the removal of a Robert E Lee statue in Franklin Ohio. I honestly had no idea that pic was even taken until my reporter Amanda brought it to my attention in a text last night. I laughed when I saw it and then showed it to Tricia who laughed as well. She suggested that I post it on Facebook without any caption or comment and just see the responses that were left and if you know me well, I’m always up for a good time.
I will say when I arrived and saw all those flags on both sides of the road, the pickup trucks with Confederate flags waving high and the hundred or so people there it was intimidating and especially since I was alone… alone and black that is, and the only news crew there at the moment. But if you know me, you know this is NOTHING new for me. Remember, I was that “one black guy” that went to all the metal shows in the 80’s and the ONLY little black kid that went to Buckeye Elementary (K- 6th grade) back in 1975 until Nichole got there the following year.
While walking towards the crowd, there were two guys I passed and we nodded to each other and one guy asked, “Are you going up there by yourself?” and I laughed, said “yes” along with, “Go figure they send the black guy to cover this event” and the three of us laughed and it opened a dialogue and the three of us talked about why they were upset about the statue being taken away. They then walked with me into the crowd, I set up my camera and asked, “Alright, who wants to talk about why we’re all here?” and several guys came up to talk. They wanted to make it clear that for them, this wasn’t about race or hate but about their southern heritage and that statue has been there for 90yrs and they felt it was wrong that it was removed in the middle of the night.
They even flipped the script on me and asked me how I felt about what’s been going on and here’s my take and what I told them:
1) I feel that where we are as a society now troubles me in the sense that all you have to do now is scream “I’M OFFENDED!!!” and you’ll have a hundred people run to you and ask how they can make it better. This can be dangerous because while people are offended about these statues and flags who’s to say that somewhere down the line a group comes to let’s say your church and are offended by your statues of worship and demand that they be taken down?
2) Taking down these statues will not eliminate racism
3) I, in all due respect, could care less about General Lee or that flag. I’m more concerned with what’s going on today and with a guy in North Korea who keeps testing limits and threatening the world with his toys because if shit hits the fan, NONE OF US are going to give two shits about the color of each other’s skin but we will unite AS AMERICANS to beat the brakes off this guy.
And we talked about a few other things and all was well. What bothers me more than anything was the email my reporter Karin got from a Franklin resident who reported that:
“Both sides of Dixie Highway with people at the monument with confederate flags yelling racial slurs at cars, woman held at gunpoint on union road”.
I’m here to tell you that NOTHING like that happened AND being that this was in Franklin, who were they supposedly yelling racial slurs to?… other WHITE people?!?
I want to say thank you all who were concerned for my safety but in the end, I talked to them for almost 40 minutes. There were NO harsh words, NO derogatory comments towards me or any other race and NO THREATS from anyone. We were all PEOPLE and AMERICANS who TALKED CIVILLY to each other with NO DRAMA WHATSOEVER and it felt good in light of everything that’s been happening. We spoke and called each other BROTHER and LISTENED to each other and shook hands after all was said and done. And this isn’t me making light of what happened in Charlottesville or any racial or social ills going on in the country. This was just my experience where what I saw turned out to be completely not what I expected it to be.
Sorry for the long post but I felt it needed to be said
(photo by Doug Mannon. Just found that out Thanks for shooting it, I think we started something positive here )