Over the past week and a half I have heard so many people debate the validity of fighting for the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Statehouse. Many people have said this fight is a distraction from more important issues while claim we must rid our country of this symbol of intimidation, oppression and hatred.
I find value in both points of view and frankly do not understand why this has turned into an argument.
A murderer filled with racism and misguided rage stole the lives on nine innocent people while they worshiped at Mother Emmanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, SC. He did not know them personally and did not care to know or understand them. He hated them simply because of the color of their skin. He targeted them because he knew they would be welcoming and not hostile – unarmed instead of ready for war. This madness feels like a return to Jim Crow and the Civil Rights struggle as five Black churches have been burned in the last week in the south and over four million dollars has been raised in support of the murderer. I will not post his name and grant him the notoriety he seeks. Murder and brutality of African Americans by police has been front page news for two years – women and children not excluded. Institutional racism and discrimination from the hiring desk to the teller window to the cash register still plague us. I can see why some people think the Confederate flag flying over a government building is irrelevant.
Did you read that last sentence? A confederate flag flies proudly over a government building. The Confederate flag is the symbol of the army who lost the Civil War. One of the causes of the Civil War was a refusal to end the enslavement and abuse of thousands of Black men, women, and children. After the Civil War and during the Civil Rights movement the Confederate flag was displayed proudly as racist southerners once again refused to follow the laws of the United States and allow Blacks equal rights. The flag was also carried by Ku Klux Klan members and White Supremacy groups and often displayed after the lynching of Black people. If the Confederate flag is always in opposition to unity and equality for all United States citizens then why should it be flown on government property? Why is it allowed at a government building funded by the tax dollars of citizens for whom it is a reminder of hatred and abuse? Why is it on government property if the government disagrees with its ideology? If citizens want to display the flag in their private homes or on private property then our democracy gives them that right. Private property versus tax payer funded public property!
The Constitution of the United States of America has promised all citizens freedom of speech and equal rights. Instead of debating and fighting each other, I would hope that those with opposing views on this issue realize that at their core they are fighting the same issues – racism! Racism is the foundation this country was built on and it will take our concerted, collective effort to fight it. We are not monolithic – and that is an awesome thing. We can multi-task. Some march, some sign petitions, some write articles, some boycott, some educate. We must divide and conquer – not separate from each other but divide how we attack these horrors that are attacking us. Some fight covert racism while others fight overt racism. Housing, education, abuse, murder, employment – racism rears its ugly head in so many ways that each of us can play different positions on the same anti-racism team.
Nicki Sanders, The Packaged for Success Coach, is an experienced trainer, group facilitator, and program manager. She has packaged her Masters of Social Work degree and over 15 years of work experience into Packaged For Success, a training and professional development company. Packaged For Success provides career coaching to college students, entry-level job hunters, and experienced employees seeking a promotion. Packaged For Success also offers communication and productivity improvement training for employees and supervisors and provides consultation on building sustainable, impactful, socially responsible community programs.
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