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Charlottesville and the legacy of slavery

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White nationalist demonstrators walk into Lee park.
Events in Charlottesville, Virginia, prompt discussion about where civil war era monuments, the job and housing discrimination and the criminal justice system fit into this idea of the legacy of slavery and segregation.
Steve Helber | AP

Three people are dead after a violent "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

Heather Heyer, 32, was struck by a car that rammed into a group of people protesting the white nationalist rally on Saturday. Two police officers died when their helicopter crashed on the way to assist at the scene. 

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe condemned the violence on Sunday: "To the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who came to our beautiful state yesterday, there is no place for you here in Charlottesville and there is no place for you in the United states of America." 

White nationalists — carrying torches, shields and Confederate flags — organized a march to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. 

MPR News host Kerri Miller discussed what the violence in Charlottesville reveals about America's struggle to reconcile the country's legacy of slavery.

Here are some of the highlights. Hear the entire conversation using the audio player above.

How to have conversations about these deep-rooted racial issues

Michael Fauntroy, associate chair of political science at Howard University, said these conversations only take place when there is dust in the air and people "can't really see clearly about what the issues really are."

"We have this conversation about race when actually this is really about racists and calling it what it really is," he said. 

The stamina has to come through an acknowledgement of what's real and what isn't. Fauntroy went on to say that with the term "fake news" being thrown around repeatedly, many people see history in a similar way. 

"You have people all across the country who deny what has really happened in American history and do so for their own intellectual comfort," he said. 

Labels and what being color blind represents

Khalilah Brown-Dean, associate professor of political science at Quinnipiac University, said it's not constructive to avoid race at all times for the sake of comfort.

"When people say to me, 'When I look at you, I don't see your color,' then you deny not only who I am, but you deny the reality of why we are our country, how this country was built," she said.

Removing a monument

The march in Charlottesville was organized to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. Fauntroy said many of those monuments were erected in the 1920s, decades after the Civil War, and serve as reminders of the history. "They are monuments to terror and to try to chill public discourse."

For Brown-Dean, removing a monument becomes "a hollow prize and low hanging fruit." Similar to color blindness, she said, if the legacy of what that represents isn't addressed, then people are ignoring "the ways of which race, and racism and supremacy become ingrained in what institutions do and how they do it."

The show's guests

• Mark Anthony Neal — Chair of Duke University's Department of African and African-American Studies

• Michael Fauntroy — Associate chair of political science at Howard University

• Khalilah Brown-Dean — Associate professor of political science at Quinnipiac University

• Jennifer Rubin — Writer of the Washington Post's "Right Turn" blog  

• Andra Gillespie —Associate professor in Emory University's Department of Political Science.