A white Christian friend of mine recently asked me to write a blog about the Confederate Flag controversy in South Carolina. As someone who has spent the vast majority of my life in northern states (Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan), I wasn’t sure what I had to offer to the conversation. Honestly, it seems obvious to me that the flags should be taken down, though they have flown forever, which I figure wasn’t going to change anytime soon. As a Northerner, I realize my limitations in seeing all sides of the conversation, knowing there are a good number of people in the South who cherish the Confederate flag, not for racist reasons in their minds, but for reasons of heritage and family honor and pride, which I cannot relate to, or for the political point that states have a right to secede from a nation (see “Anonymous” / Jim’s comment in the thread below).
It’s remarkable how the tragic murder of 9 black people at a Charleston church have now led to the legal removal of the Confederate flag from the state Capitol Building in Columbia. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed the bill using 9 pens, one to commemorate each victim murdered in the June 17th church shooting.
It has always felt to me that for the most part, the Confederate flag and what it represents was a “Southern issue.” In asking around about this, I discovered that plenty of people in the North fly the Confederate flag out on their front lawns as well.
Whatever presumed innocent reasons might be out there to fly the Confederate flag, they are vastly overshadowed by the pain and oppression toward blacks that the flag represents, as well as vastly overshadowed by the contemporary overt racism and hatred the flag still serves as a symbol of for many. Just because the flag doesn’t mean that to you, doesn’t mean it doesn’t mean that for others, which is reason enough to take it down. Look no further than the murderer from the Charleston church massacre, Dylann Roof (pictured left), who used the Confederate flag as his rally cry for hatred toward blacks. Or this past February, how a group of white frat members at an Ole Miss fraternity draped a noose and an old Georgia flag (which includes the Confederate battle emblem on it) on a campus statue of James Meredith. Meredith was the first black student to attend Ole Miss back in 1962. Meredith’s court-ordered enrollment resulted in 2 people being killed and 200 more injured when violence erupted on campus as a result of the enrollment. Meanwhile, at a 1962 Ole Miss Running’ Rebels football game:
The University of Mississippi’s famous nickname “Ole Miss” arose from a yearbook contest in the late 1800’s. The name is what black slaves used to call their plantation owner’s wife. Only up until recently, Ole Miss’s mascot was a caricature of a plantation owner leaning on a cane. And yes, the college mascot is still the Runnin’ Rebels.
Can we please make the United States a country that is for black people (and all people of color), as well as white people? If this is our goal, then the Confederate flag must be seen for what it is and what it has become and be removed and publicly identified as a symbol of hate, oppression, racism and division.
(stayed tuned for a sequel post from a guest author Zakiya Jackson)
Host of the The Flip Side Podcast
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