Who is Melanie Tazza?
Melanie Tazza grew up in the Brandermill community of Chesterfield County, VA. She has a husband and five children, the eldest of whom is bi-racial from a previous relationship. Her family lives in a diverse community in Henrico County, VA. She was raised and continues to raise her family Catholic. She helps run a small business and enjoys doing yoga in her free time.
Excerpt from interview with Melanie Tazza by Whitney Dow, 2017
Q: Are you proud? We all hear about, like, you know, “I’m a proud Southerner, I’m a proud Southerner.” Are you proud of your heritage of where you’re from, of your community, of your town? Is this something that you feel like, “Oh, I’m a Richmondite [phonetic], I’m from Virginia.” Do you have state spirit? [Laughter]
Tazza: [08:32:18] Oh, there is so much American pride and Southern pride, and with Eastern pride, and I don’t feel any of that, and sometimes, I feel guilty. I feel like, “oh, I should be grateful for this country that we live in. I should be grateful for the state that I live in.” But because I don’t feel that much of a connection outside of I feel grateful for the privileges that I’ve been afforded and the lifestyle that I have. But honestly, it’s a little embarrassing and shameful sometimes when you think about what other people have to live through. So, I don’t really feel that much pride because I don’t feel like I have anything to be prideful for. I haven’t really had to face that much adversity in my life. I feel like lots of times the pride comes from the struggles that you went through and what you have overcome, you know? But I don’t have that much, so I don’t feel like I have that other than living life, and paying my taxes, and raising kids. I don’t feel like I’m doing anything special.
Q: I guess because I’m thinking about one of the reasons that we’re here is Richmond is sort of the fact that the historical—you know?
Tazza: [08:33:32] Yes.
Q: The history of Richmond as being the seat of Confederacy. You know, we’re driving down Monuments [Monument] Avenue the other day that celebrates this particular vision of a white America. And wondering what, if any, connection you feel to that, or how you feel about that history being from here?
Tazza: [08:33:58] It is very interesting now being an adult and living in Richmond. So, I grew up in the suburbs of Richmond, and there’s like Southside and Richmond, and people don’t cross the river. Like I live in Richmond now, and I do not cross the river unless I absolutely have to. So, I never felt an identity. I didn’t—even growing up and learning about the Confederacy, I never felt a connection to it because I didn’t live in Richmond. You know, to me, that was a whole another world. We didn’t go visit Richmond, we didn’t ever come to the city, so I don’t feel any kind of connection to it.
And it’s so strange to me that people that seem to feel a connection to Richmond, as far as the Confederacy is concerned, don’t live in Richmond, for the most part. I mean it’s the people that are in, you know, western Hanover and in Chesterfield. I think it would be very interesting to find a whole lot of people that feel this big connection to the Confederate history of Richmond that actually live in Richmond now.