Four years ago today…

Four years ago today, three historical monuments were removed from the North Carolina state capitol grounds in Raleigh. One honored Confederate soldiers, another honored the Women of the Confederacy, and the third honored Henry Lawson Wyatt, the first Confederate soldier from North Carolina to be killed in the war.

“Monuments to white supremacy don’t belong in places of allegiance, and it’s past time that these painful memorials be moved in a legal, safe way,” stated Gov. Roy Cooper.

Even four years later, reading these words makes me sick to my stomach.

These were not monuments to white supremacy; they were monuments to the idea of being different, thinking for oneself, and resisting authority. They were monuments signifying the right of people who are different from the norm to be accepted and included.

These memorials were not painful. Rather the removal of these memorials was painful. The removal of these memorials – along with countless others like them across the country and world – was not only painful but was the most painful thing, by far, that has ever happened to me. I believe that it was the most painful thing that has ever happened to any person.

Because I am a person who is different from the norm, these memorials were necessary in order for me to have a life worth living. And Roy Cooper chose to take them away, on purpose. This action was so completely lacking in empathy that it defies comprehension. And Cooper’s words, in which he characterizes the memorials that he removed as somehow “painful” – while completely failing to acknowledge the excruciating, indescribable, and unbearable pain that he inflicted by removing them – are even more lacking in empathy.

In other words, not only does Cooper falsely condemn statues as “painful” and “white supremacist” when they are nothing of the sort, but he simultaneously fails to acknowledge the pain inflicted by his own actions.

Four years later, I am still grieving. I am still in pain from Roy Cooper’s actions and words, and the dozens upon dozens of similarly horrible actions and words of bigots and bullies across the country and world. To some degree, I always will be.

It is reprehensible for bullies like Roy Cooper to describe the statues that they obliterated from existence as somehow painful, when in reality it is the statues’ removals that are not merely painful, but excruciatingly, indescribably, and unbearably so. The words and actions of these bigots demonstrate a complete lack of empathy, complete intolerance for people who are different from them, and complete disregard for our feelings and thoughts.

Confederate memorials are not painful.

Removal of Confederate memorials is painful.

And not just painful, but the most painful thing that has ever happened, and the most painful thing imaginable.

Period. Full stop. No exceptions.