I’ve been reading about the movement to defund the police, another one to remove Confederate monuments and symbols, also about Black Lives Matter and the new trend to change the names of everything relating to our history, as far as slavery and race relations go: Princeton University is removing Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school, and the owners of the famous Eskimo Pie will also rename their product. Really? Eskimos who can handle 40 below are offended by a pie?

I can imagine the glee in activists’ eyes when the Confederate monument was removed here in Denton. I’m glad they can get pleasure out of nothing. I say nothing because I don’t think that one single thing will change for the better from this action. Not for Blacks, not for whites, not for anybody. In fact, I think the contrary is likely. The fact that we have five spineless county commissioners who voted unanimously is no triumph. For things to matter, there has to be a victory; for there to be a victory, there has to be a worthwhile effort against unlikely odds or a worthy opponent. Browbeating spineless frogs in a rain barrel is no victory.

If one single solitary Black person’s life improves as a result, I will be surprised. In fact, I will be amazed if it doesn’t go the other way. A monument whose removal means a lot to some people also means a lot to others who would have preferred it to be left alone. Now both sides will have to live with the consequences.

I know a lot of people who didn’t say anything because, according to them, they didn’t want to be “targeted.” I don’t blame them. All these silent people are now, for the most part, resolute in the belief they are being mob-handled and are not likely to change their minds about race, which after all, was the purpose of the exercise. If they were inclined to be prejudiced before, they are doubly so now. This is precisely the wrong direction and why I say it was a big mistake.

Personally, I don’t care. I barely knew the monument was there, and were it not for all the attention it got lately, I would have never thought twice about it. “Live and let live” would have been a better foundation for change.

In a few months to a year, those who were so adamant and then pleased with the removal will feel empty, when they see that it accomplished nothing. Remember Occupy Wall Street? If you don’t, I don’t blame you: Basically it was a protest movement started in 2011 against economic inequality that began in New York’s Financial District, then moved over the United States and other countries and also achieved nothing. I say nothing because it was supposed to right social and economic inequalities, banish greed and drive away corruption, plus check the undue influence of corporations on government — particularly from the financial services sector: pathetic wishful thinking.

For things to actually change, they have to change at a personal level, perhaps with goodwill and education. Just removing a monument or passing a law against greed or another one against corruption means nothing if it doesn’t have the overwhelming support of the people.

Remember the Equal Rights Amendment (introduced in 1923)? It was needed, it was righteous, but it failed. In the meantime, laws have been passed that protect women from discrimination, but laws are only as good as the people who live them. Also, there is the Age Discrimination in Employment Act that forbids age discrimination against people who are 40 or older.

So how come a highly qualified healthy white women with a college degree in her early 60s cannot find a job in Denton? Not at the University of North Texas, or Texas Woman’s University, or with the city of Denton or Department of Public Safety, or even the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It’s shameful. The person I’m referring to tried everything, and it was a waste of time. Her rejection from DPS came back before she had a chance to log off: She applied online and was rejected immediately. And this was last year when DPS had a shortage of people.

I can only imagine how much more difficult it must be for a Black person in similar circumstances. Only now, I think it just got harder.

MANUEL TABOADA lives, works and writes in Denton. He welcomes feedback and can be reached at manueltaboada.com.

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