Monuments debate highlights national, local divisions

NEW ORLEANS -- Throughout the debate over the Confederate monuments, supporters from both sides have been passionate about their views. 

The monuments debate is another issue in a list that includes Blue Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter, immigration, anti-immigration and others that seem to be dividing people. 

"When we elected President Obama, for a lot of us, it seemed to be this is great, we are in a direction of moving towards equality and seeing the differences in diversity," said Ashraf Esmail, Dillard University professor of sociology.

We asked Esmail if the division if the lines are that clear.  He said just look at current politics.

"After the election, we almost had to open up our eyes and we wondered, because if you look at the whole it was primarily, even the traditional Democratic states voted Republican," he said.

Esmail also points to camera phones and the reach of social media as to helping to make the divide more visible.  Now he says the question maybe whether the country is moving forward?

"Half the group out there did not want these monuments to come down," Esmail explained. "Which again symbolizes historically over the last 100 years the first thing we thought about  was racism, slavery and a lack of promoting diversity."

Even though the country has become more diverse, Esmail said people can easily live segregated without engaging with their neighbors outside of their circle.

So Eyewitness News decided to talk with our neighbors at Mid-City Pizza. We asked people there what they thought; is the division getting deeper?

"There are systems in place that are dividing people into a binary but when you have conversations with people it's a lot more complex," said Joe Plummer.

Others think there are non-political issues involved.

"I think a lot of it has to do with the elections and I think locally I think a lot of it has to do with race relations," said Caitlin Spiker.

But everyone we spoke to agrees people's expression of their differences can be harsh.

"A lot more, don't know how to band together, in no kind of situation," said Eva Smith.

It seems some in the community see the divide, but what's their suggestion to healing the rift now?

"Instead of posting a lot of hateful [crap] on Facebook, talk to your neighbor people in real life," said Spiker.

"Sometimes you're going to disagree with your neighbors, or your neighbor is not going to like what you say but at least you communicated together," said Smith.

There are no clear answers yet, as the question may become one for the ages.  

© 2017 WWL-TV


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