Over the past week or so, media outlets have been buzzing with feedback on matters taking place in Charleston South Carolina, after what I consider the most recent publicly known extreme act of racism. One of the subjects that has created a lot of steam is that of the confederate flag, and whether or not it should be removed from Capitol grounds. According to CNN, the house passed an amendment, on Tuesday (voted in favor by a count of 103-10), allowing for debate on the issue. Further steps will be necessary to officially have this deed done; however, I felt it was necessary to offer my brief take on the matter in the mean time.
I, for one, do not believe that this flag should be taken down (yes, I am still black). Let me take a step back; I don’t necessarily favor it, but I don’t feel strongly against it either. For starters, I believe that a confederate flag of whatever kind, given the updates throughout history, is representative of South Carolina, and other Southern states. Regardless of the implications of the flag (whether or not it represents racism, or it simply symbolizes the south), it still remains part of the identity of the south. We can’t change history. Even if we get rid of all memorabilia that may remind us of what took place in the past, we can’t eliminate the occurrences and the implications thereafter. We can only aspire to learn from the past and hope to prevent history from repeating itself.
Secondly, even if the confederate flag represents an advocacy for racism, eliminating it will not get rid of the hate that racists have deep down in their hearts. That, to me, is the issue. That is the root cause of this social dilemma. If 100% of the population was completely over racism and was able to co-exist with every race, any historically racist artifacts or memorabilia could be looked upon as history, and simply that. Since this immense hate for a group of people simply based on their race persists however, things of this nature are looked upon with a microscopic eye, in search of any deeper meaning that may exist.
Lastly, if the confederate flag is so offensive to blacks and minorities in this country, why did it take so long for the state of South Carolina to realize this? Why did it take this recent episode of a racist act for the legislators to realize it’s “harm?” Removing it from the Capitol grounds will not undo the death of those nine innocent victims, nor will it eliminate the racist beliefs of those who hate minorities so passionately. To take it a step further, I do not believe that it will prevent more racist folk from committing further malicious acts. Considering the fear of facing the death penalty, or even life in prison does not seem to deter some of these offenders, I doubt that any legislative or legal repercussions will serve as deterrence.
My entire view on this matter is as follows: government and legislature can take steps that they feel is necessary to ensure that people of all races, genders, sexuality, etc. are not violated; however, these steps will not change how people truly feel on the inside. What’s legal, or even socially acceptable, may and will not always be a reflection of one’s views on a matter. What will, in actuality, change the perception of such racist folks is education. As a black man myself, I truly believe that if someone with a racist mind gets to meet and know us, they would change their perception of us. I encourage all racist people to be open minded for a second. Get to meet five black people from five different crowds (five because the first one you meet may be a poor representation of us), get to know them, and see if that changes your perception at all. If that doesn’t work, then you are by all means free to continue believing what you currently do; although I am almost certain that your views would change. That, to me, is how we can cure the problem of racism; not through forced legislation.