Hate crimes are nothing new. These crimes have been relevant and torturing lives of its inferior victims for decades. But why don’t we have more unity in the United States? Is it because our elder (and maybe more prejudice) generation will not abandon their personal views on these matters? Do we see subliminal messages (i.e. the Confederate flag, supremacy groups) that keep the hatred alive? Is it that the general population is just plain evil? Indeed, this kind of stuff could put a damper in our nation’s progression, but it is time for us to cease blaming everyone and everything around us. It’s time for us to come, and to stick, together.
I have never heard more of an uproar for the removal of the Confederate flag than I have during the past few weeks. What sparked it was the deaths of nine African-American individuals belonging to Emanuel African Episcopal Church, a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina. It was a very random and tragic incident, which ended with the arrest of Dylan Roof, a 21-year-old white male, and the lost lives of those church members. There have been about six more arsons of black churches since then.
South Carolina was one of the 11 confederate states in the U.S. and some people felt that the cause of this incident was solely because the Confederate flag is still publicized throughout the state. As a black woman from the south, neither the shooting nor the assumptions of what caused it provides me with comfort. Unfortunately, the African-American community must continue to be cautious simply because of the confusion behind why it happened and how some think it can be fixed. It seems no one has a clue but are shooting for (the wrong) stars. No matter what people think the Confederate flag symbolizes, our community will not be out of danger. The division in our nation is still alive. I believe this is likely the reason for the misconceptions and spiritually, it is upsetting.
What the Confederate flag means
During the Civil War, the seceded states wanted to their own government apart from the U.S. and they strived to differentiate themselves from the Union. Their flags consistently changed throughout that time but the one that stands today, according to C. G. P. Grey, a YouTube channel featuring explanatory videos, was never the government flag for the Confederate States of America. It was (technically) solely used to distinguish themselves from the Union in battle. (click to see video)
The problem is that the Confederate flag has become more associated with the negativity, racism, and crimes that have been committed around it. A rebel may publicize a signature, or trademark, of their name, terrorist group symbol/name, flag, sign, etc. to let us know who they are affiliated with. From then on, that symbol (in this case, the Confederate flag) is to blame for all terrible actions afflicted on the weak. But with all the information out there (take some time to research), does that really make sense? In my opinion, the flag is not the issue—it is society.
What will the removal of the flag change?
Not much. The Confederate flag on the statehouse grounds of South Carolina was removed on July 10. However, we have to do a lot more than take down a few flags for things to turn around. Coming to a common ground and realizing that there is something we can do can make life easier for all citizens.
So, why not address the elephant in the room–racism and slavery? That is ultimately what this controversy is spiraling from. Let’s rip the bandage off and talk about it because that time did not just affect the African-American community (although they endured the worst of it)—it affected everyone and everything around it. The slave masters, the wives of masters, the children of masters, the indentured servants, the mulattos, the economy, the plantations, the Native Americans, were all affected by this era. But that is a conversation for a different day.
I believe if the nation becomes more open-minded and accepts our history, maybe one day we will not even see the need for the Confederate flag.
The Confederate flag is a symbol that we are still divided, not slavery nor racism. May it be republicans vs. democrats, blacks vs. whites, the north vs. the south, poor whites vs. rich whites, the young vs. the old, homosexuals vs. heterosexuals—the list goes on and we must figure out how to progress as a society. So, day by day, let’s become more UNITED in the United States.