Thursday, May 13, 2021

Ed Gray, NDG Senior Columnist: Confederate Statues: The White Man’s Burden

Rudyard Kipling coined the phrase “White Man’s Burden”

Straight Talk with Ed Gray, NDG Senior Columnist

This past week at Dallas City Hall, our city leaders continued the debate over the Civil War. I have looked on with great amusement, of what is the folly of the “White Man’s Burden” regarding the Confederate statues. Now before anyone starts to say that I am playing the race card, I want to remind you of who has the deck. This is not about race cards; it is a bigger game. It is about who has power. The statues have come down but what are we to do with them?

The phrase “the white man’s burden” was coined by the great writer Rudyard Kipling, the same guy who wrote “Jungle Book.” Kipling was taught in schools during my time as a great writer whose books were required reading. I have been trying to find a connection with that, but let us keep moving to the present controversy.

The burden of the white man according to Kipling was to teach civilization, culture, and history to the brown, black, and yellow races. The creation of statues glorifying General Robert E. Lee is considered part of the edification of the noble lost cause of white supremacy. Many supporters of the statues point to its beauty and its connection to an alleged history, that of southern nobility. In short, it is a combination of beauty, art, and history which must be preserved.

Kipling and other white supremacists, but otherwise great writers, urged for the white man to pick up their burden, and a fellow writer, Jack London, said, search for a “Great White Hope.” This hope is centered on the belief that what happens to the black or brown race is irrelevant unless white men are in charge. Being in charge means that the dominant role must be ascribed to white men.

That being said, I think it is a peculiar institution that exists in Dallas. Current debates regarding what happens to the statues are primarily a white debate, in white corridors of power, with predominantly white faces arguing over the historic symbols of terror to black folk. This is largely the white man’s burden, as black leaders are not central in this debate. After all, white men put up the statues, only white men can take them down, right?

The black man’s burden in South Dallas, Pleasant Grove, and Oak Cliff is fixing potholes, creating jobs, feeding the poor, and planning for a better future. I finally found the connection. As long as we have statues symbolically stand, if not physically stand, the burden is more so on black people than white people.

For you see, regardless of whether white people remove a white supremacist statue in a white neighborhood park with few black visitors, then General Robert E. Lee still stands. You can remove a statue but you can’t remove the pedestal of hate that causes black communities to suffer from poor city services.

I am Ed Gray and this is Straight Talk.

Ed Gray, the host of The Commish Radio Show airing Saturdays 3-5 p.m. on, can be reached at


  1. […] Juanita Jewel Craft was a liberator, as opposed to those sentinels of slavery, who now watch guard at the Dallas Convention Center. The Dallas City Council has the power and the responsibility to restore Liberty in South Dallas.  Symbolically they must act today. Juanita Craft was our Dallas Statue of Liberty. When she held out her arms, children came to fight for justice, as Craft’s Children for the Dallas NAACP.          When Juanita Jewel Craft held our arms out, presidents such as Jimmy Carter and Lyndon Johnson sat on her porch. The real test of whether a statue or monument should exist is whether it brings people together, rather than dividing people.           Let‘s stand for our monument and encourage the Dallas City Council to rebuild and restore Liberty in South Dallas.  Our Lady Liberty is the Juanita Jewel Craft Home. Let’s get Dallas City Hall to rebuild and restore the Juanita Craft home today.   Ed Gray is a presidential scholar at Southern Methodist University. He is the host of The Commish Radio Show airing Saturdays 3-5 p.m. on, can be reached at NDG was awarded NNPA’s 2018 Robert S. Abbott Best Editorial for Gray’s “Confederate Statues: The White Man’s Burden” column. […]

  2. […] Straight Talk with Ed Gray The Pandemic of Hate in America continues in 2020 with no signs of mitigation. The words Pandemic and relief are used with regularity to describe the Corona Virus Crisis. We can use these same words to describe the contagion of hate and fear that has consumed America and cost Ahmaud Arbery his life.    In Brunswick, Georgia, a town created in the year 1738 serves as a reminder that affairs between the white enslavers and present-day assassins are similar. In the antebellum south, white enslavers chased down black men from the saddle of horses, today they do it from the back of pickup trucks. In the 282 years since the founding of Brunswick, Georgia, this type of behavior has not changed.  Ahmaud Arbery, a black man, was hunted down from the back of a Georgia pickup because he fit the profile. The profile of a black man in America fits the description. What is the description? A black man was doing something suspicious. Ahmaud was running, a usual occupation for a jogger. However, in a country in which African American citizens are routinely killed for doing random things like playing in the park-like Tamir Rice, eating candy like Trayvon Martin, and now Ahmaud Aubery died while jogging fits the description of suspicion.  The Pandemic that is the killing of unarmed Black People continues with a lack of any measures that will flatten the curve. Since the advent of the Black Lives Matter movement, there appears no vaccine that will cure this affliction. Soaring numbers of deaths proceed without any mitigation. The seasons change, and yet we know more will be killed regardless of the weather.  There are the usual calls for social distancing. This appears not to be an effective strategy. Botham Jean was quarantined in his home, eating ice cream when he was gunned down.  Pandemic victims fear for their lives, inside or outside of their home, fulfilling essential tasks. America apparently has a timing issue in dealing with all types of pandemics. Whether it is the Corona Virus Pandemic or Ammaud Arbery. The date of his murder predates the beginning of the epidemic endangering us today. It is our responsibility as survivors to hold the government as the responsible party in the death of all. Those who have lost their lives through these Pandemics, one of hate, and the other health.  I am Ed Gray, and this is straight talk. Ed Gray is a Human Rights doctoral candidate at Southern Methodist University. He is the host of The Commish Radio Show airing Saturdays 2-3 p.m. on, and a contributor to the award-winning “Inside Texas Politics” as seen on WFAA 8 the ABC Dallas television affiliate. Gray can also be heard on: ”The Ed Gray Community Champion Hour” on KHVN Dallas. Gray can be reached at NDG was awarded NNPA’s 2018 Robert S. Abbott Best Editorial for Gray’s “Confederate Statues: The White Man’s Burden” column. […]

  3. […]   In 2019, African-Americans in Dallas cannot blame anyone from lack of access to power. With this access to power, what will the result be? Black Dallas residents should take advantage of this moment, because it may not ever happen again. African-Americans need to organize politically to keep them in office. There are those who are rejoicing at the change, there are those others who are fighting the change.         African-American elected officials can affect change for the betterment of ALL Dallas. The team elected in the past year is unprecedented.  In addition to the politicians, T.C. Broadnax, as the Dallas City Manager, is responsible for running the day-to-day operations of Dallas, black political clout has been realized. From Dallas City Hall with Mayor-Elect Eric Johnson to law enforcement lead by Dallas County Sheriff, Marian Brown, and Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall, we no longer can say we are denied access to power.          In the Dallas County District Attorney’s office, John Creuzot has pledged to end the mass incarceration of our community. This reflects a change in the policies which led to Dallas County’s horrific and lousy track record of prosecuting and incarcerating dozens of innocent people. Change is not merely locking up guilty people, it is freeing those who are innocent, or should not be jailed in the first place.        This is the face of power in Dallas, it is the face of Black Power, not by raising voices, but by raising votes. Political power means more than just getting elected, it means delivering change once elected.  Black elected power means more than symbolism, it means making a difference for us ALL, no matter what color.    I am Ed Gray, and this is straight talk.   Ed Gray is a presidential scholar at Southern Methodist University. He is the host of The Commish Radio Show airing Saturdays 3-5 p.m. on, can be reached at NDG was awarded NNPA’s 2018 Robert S. Abbott Best Editorial for Gray’s “Confederate Statues: The White Man’s Burden” column. […]


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