The Confederate Flag: A House Divided
A house divided against itself cannot stand. “I believe this government cannot endure, malady permanently, drug half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.”
I am not from the south by birth, but as a person of African descent, I have roots deeply imbedded in its soil. The words spoken by Lincoln continue to resonate as a prophetic proclamation to the citizens of the United States of America, to this day. For those who continue to cling to the ideology that frames the defense of the confederate flag in “heritage not hate,” there is a denial and distance that must be maintained. In light of where we stand now, those individuals must reject an inclusive history of the United States of America and embrace a dogma that glorifies a supremacist doctrine. In order to continue to stand in defense of that flag they cannot bring themselves, to truly interrogate, the historic continuum, on which that flag stands. There “seems” to be certain fragility in the sense of southern identity that reduces ones understanding of southern pride to this singular emblem.
#TheConfederateFlag — When did being southern require that we bow down to the confederacy or to the confederate cause without the purview of historical context? Is there a requirement to hold up the “cause” and deify all those it includes, as long as those deified heroes are white-skinned? —- At a time, when more than half of the population of the south were enslaved, brutalized and used as human chattel to build and sustain the economy and lifestyle of that same south, how can it be so?
As a way of life in the south, the institution of chattel slavery was the cause for which the south rose up in defiance and seceded from the Union of states. They (the southern states) were proclaiming the “rights” of the states over the unified declaration of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness on which the United States of America was founded and to the Constitution to which they had previously sworn allegiance. They were traitors. They betrayed the allegiances they had previously sworn because, “they” were protecting their “way of life” and their right to pursue an economy built on the backs of Black bodies. That was what the Civil War was fought over. That is why countless lives were destroyed.
A deep divide and fragile state of relationship continues between Black & White to this day, and it is the legacy we have inherited because of how the nation was founded and the enslaved labor that built its wealth, strength and power. The profound costs continue to reverberate today, imbedded in the inequality and inequity that exists in the criminal justice system, and entrenched in economic, educational and political institutions and institutional policy.
It boggles the mind that in 2015, people cannot acknowledge “the cause” for which they fought was, simply, wrong. It was immoral. Over 400 years of history, and we still cannot concile the historic legacy that divides us. The Confederates and the #ConfederateFlag symbolize a deep festering wound in our national consciousness. Take down the confederate flag and then we can talk about why.
Up Next Week: The Streets to the Sanctuary: Michael Brown to Rev. Pinckney