Protests against racial injustice have taken place in communities across the country this year, some focusing on calls to remove monuments to racist figures. Last week, on Indigenous People’s Day, an obelisk in the Santa Fe plaza that commemorated colonial violence against Indigenous people was pulled down by demonstrators. As part of our Voices Behind The Vote series, Santa Fe writer Darryl Lorenzo Wellington spoke with KUNM about what that community action meant to him in an election cycle that has seen racism take center stage.
“My name is Darryl Lorenzo Wellington, and I'm a writer, journalist and performance artist. I've lived in Santa Fe nine to 10 years. We are in the plaza, right in front of what was formerly known as the obelisk, but which is no longer, because it was dismantled on Monday, which was Indigenous Peoples Day, by a group of Tewa women activists along with a mass crowd.
For me, it was an inspiring event. And it symbolizes the racial divisions in Santa Fe, I should say. But I would say it was more an inevitable event that should have happened a long time ago. But law and legality, for all this time, has failed to make this happen. I believe that a lot of what happened here may not even have happened without the current president being in office. I believe that what happened is related to the racial divisions that are all throughout the country, in its own particular New Mexico way. You could compare what happened here to the monuments being taken down, and one place that stands out to me is Charleston, South Carolina, where I'm from. It's unfortunate that this one was only taken down through what some call 'rioting'— I would call it community activism. But, similar incidents obviously have been happening all over for the past four years.
Let's break it down to the bottom line. This is because the president is a racist. And at that point, insults such as this, this obelisk, simply become untenable. It represents the same way we need to come together to make a lot of changes in society and structural racism. It did happen, but only with the concerted effort of the people. And that in itself is inspiring. On a national level, I'm really hoping that the statesmen get it together, and we won't need for something like this to happen.
It's always a balancing act between, you know, the community need for so many things - you know, better health care, better policing, or really less policing, but reform, let's put it like that - and what the statesmen will do. So yeah, for me, it's immensely metaphorical, though, for me personally, it had a dramatic and rousing conclusion, particularly because of how it happened. Though the truth be known, even though many people are saying it was outsiders, it was a coalition of Native Americans and progressives. But that's how it happened. It truly was a coalition and that I found inspiring.
I have my ballot, and I'm going to mail it in. I only haven’t simply because I have been so busy the last three days. It will probably be done right this afternoon.
I'm going to vote a straight Democratic ticket because the Republican Party is an antiquated non-entity that we would do without. There are legitimate arguments. There are legitimate debates. All those debates are between moderate and progressive Democrats. There are legitimate debates about how we need to achieve progress, how we need to achieve better health care. “How,” not “whether.” That's the problem, not whether we need to approve them. That's not a debate. It’s how we need to approve them, fiscally responsibly and so forth. There is a legitimate debate, and all that debate is between moderate Democrats and progressive Democrats."