The Confederate Flag Came Down…Now What?
The controversial and combined symbol of the “heritage of the confederacy, cialis ” and the hate and terrorism of the segregationist South along with the legacy of race and racism within the American story has finally been removed from the capitol grounds of Columbia, hospital South Carolina. The flag’s removal has been a longstanding battle within the state, and a cause for which the NAACP continued to press state and local government representatives to engage since the so-called “compromise,” which, initially, moved the flag from atop the Capitol dome to fly only a few yards away atop a designated flag pole in front of a confederate memorial, was never fair or agreeable to them. Although many government officials touted the transfer of said flag from one location to the other as an agreed upon compromise, most Blacks remained dissatisfied and undeterred in their struggle to have the flag permanently removed from state grounds altogether.
The tragic massacre of nine people at Mother Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, by a white supremacist who had been emboldened by the ideology espoused by those who held the confederate flag as a symbol of resistance, and the banner of segregation and vehement opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, seemed to swiftly turn the tide. Lawmakers and citizens, alike, were brokenhearted over the tragic loss of life, and all of a sudden, gained a new zealotry to have the flag removed. After years of recalcitrance, they, NOW, were ready to bring the flag down. So swift was the response that it makes one have to ask the question, “Now what?”
Although, the removal of the confederate flag is certainly an important and significant action, it is far from creating any significant or lasting change and falls short of addressing the systemic, and institutional racism and oppression that infects every aspect of our nation’s legal, educational, social, and political systems. The flag’s removal was “symbolic” … and symbols give us emotional and, even, physical relief momentarily, but do nothing to effectively change or transform the systems that drive inequity, inequality and injustice. Symbolic change is mostly cosmetic and does nothing to remove the burden of oppression that disproportionately affects the lives and livelihood of so many of this nation’s black and brown citizens. Inequality in public policy, unequal educational opportunity, unfair housing, disproportionate rates of incarceration, unfair and arbitrary jail and prison sentencing, and the targeting and profiling of communities of color by a police force that is disconnected and disenfranchised from the communities they serve, and so on, and so on, and so on . . .
There is so much more to do and, yet, there seems to be a feeling that in taking down one confederate flag, we have actually accomplished more than a token gesture. It begs the question, now what? Did the flag come down to assuage the guilt and shame of those who erected it and fought so vigorously to keep it in place, as if some false claim of heritage validated its presence on state grounds? Is there now some recognition that the cries of Black Folks, for all of these decades, have actually been heard with regard to the disparity of treatment in a nation for which they fought and died to claim their freedom? Is there now some type of reckoning as to the debt owed to the people whose unpaid labor created the wealth that has built this nation? Or are we prepared to make only symbolic CHANGE? Damn the confederate flag – – – I say what NOW?
Up Next Week: Black Bodies & Criminal Justice