The Confederate flag was a symbol of rebellion against the United States’ federal system of government, the leadership of Republicans led by Abraham Lincoln, the consummate racism that plagued American history, and the politically-correctedness in modern United States.
Our nation has always been racially divided… from European settlers’ treatment of the natives to the suppression of all minority groups and even women by white men, to the 20th and 21st centuries divisions based on race, gender and sexual preference.
The Confederate (Dixie) flag has too much power, given to it by the South during the Civil War, by the Ku Klux Klan after 1866, by people trying to hold on to the glory of the old South, and those who think it represents Southern pride.
I don’t know how it feels to be on the African-American side of this flag. I was born of European descent. It isn’t my fault that I am not black just as it isn’t African-Americans’ fault for not being white. I don’t know how the Confederate flag makes me feel. I don’t have a history tied to slavery. My family had its own struggles, immigrants being discriminated against because they weren’t WASPy white Americans.
I don’t know what emotions that the Confederate flag evokes, but I can tell you that although I don’t respect the Ku Klux Klan and am glad the South did not win the Civil War, I also don’t give it the power to hurt… the power to control… the power to be… powerful.
Our society is fixated with blaming inanimate objects for our ills– the flag is hatred and causes racism, guns kill people, alcohol and drugs make people get addicted. We need scapegoats, we need to be able to point our fingers at something to deflect our personal responsibility onto something else. To blame the rock for breaking the window is easier than saying, “I threw the rock and broke the window.”
Perhaps it is the era of entitlement– moms calling schools to yell at administrators and teachers for their child’s bad grades, administrators giving teachings ultimatums regarding failing athletes, parents marching into classrooms to humilate the teachers into changing their child’s grades. These are the things that drove me from teaching high school and into college. In college, I hear the race card being used and blame being aimed at me and it irritates me.
“You don’t like me because I’m black/Hispanic/other minority.”
“That’s ridiculous and you know it.”
“That’s why I’m failing.”
“No, your failure has nothing to do with race. It has to do with your inability to complete a task you have started, to be consistent, responsible, and mature. Your grade reflects what you have put into the class.”
“I’m going to the Dean and tell him you’re failing me because I’m black/Hispanic/other minority.”
“You [the teacher] failed me.”
“You [the student] failed yourself.”
“You [the teacher] caused me to lose my financial aid.”
“You [the student] caused yourself to lose your financial aid.”
“I’m going to the Dean and lodging a complaint.”
“Why? Because you didn’t do the work? Didn’t come to class? Cheated on a paper, exam, or assignment?”
“Yes, and I’ll threaten to sue.”
“Go right ahead. Sue. You may win, you may not, but I’ll still have my dignity whereas you will not.”
“You can’t talk to me like that!”
“Like what? Like an adult?”
“You’re a bitch.”
“Have a nice day.”
Not long ago, young Americans were walking on the American flag, desecrating it because if their disgust over the legal systems’ inaction regarding racial profiling and racism demonstrated by law enforcement onto black America.
They blamed police, they blamed the legal system, the government, the white culture, white history and white people in general. For the crimes they committed, it is white society’s fault for having slaves 150 years ago? I call bullshit on that.
I resent the implication that because I am white and you may not be that I will treat you like the garbage you think you may be. Trust me, I AM disgusted by that. You can no sooner blame an entire race for misdeeds than blame a flag. You cannot blame ALL white people for being racists like you cannot accuse ALL black people of being drug-addicted criminals. Right?
So, my solution is thus…
Stop blaming things for the actions of people. While not every white American is racist, not every black American is a drug-addicted criminal. While not every Mexican immigrant is illegal, not never white American is hiring illegals to work for them.
Stop blaming the flag for perpetuating racism. Stop blaming guns for killing people. Stop blaming technology for making this young generation disconnected from the older generations socially. Stop blaming something or someone else for YOUR actions.
This is a country that emerged from a separation of genders and races because during THAT time in Europe, they did believe they were more superior to non-white, non-Christians. Hell, Protestants thought they were better than Catholics and Catholics felt they were better than Protestants, Jews, Muslims and pagans. There’s a historical cycle of one-up-manship… of haves and have nots… of top of the food chain and the bottom. The bosses and workers, the lords and serfs, the masters and slaves. In a way, Karl Marx was not entirely wrong when he wrote about class struggle in his book, The Communist Manifesto. The impoverished working class was the whipping children of the wealthy, in the 1800s. The proletariat, the poor working class, were abused as a group– overworked, grossly underpaid, and disregarded as untouchables. Society, especially in Europe, was so negative due to rapid industrialization and increase of populations in urban centers because the poor working class, with little skills, scant amount of education, and ethnic/gender/racial make-ups that prevented them from rising out of the muck and mire of their socio-economic levels while the rich and upper middle classes benefited from their labor and toil.
Therefore, racism, gender-discrepancy, separation of the classes has been a part of WORLD history since nomadic hunters began to settle down and farm. Tasks relegated by gender– the men maintaining a strong provider and protector visual while women tended to the fire, camp and children.
And, although white people literally OWNED their slaves, women were controlled, dominated and oppressed by all men. They were not citizens, had no political rights, were subject to the whims of their husbands, could be beaten if necessary, locked in insane asylums or discarded without so much as a dollar given to them. Women were bartered , traded, and manipulated for CENTURIES. Upper and middle class women were given in marriage to whomever could improve her father’s status politically and economically.
Who do we blame? Men.
Do we blame a flag? An apron? A feather duster? No. We blame men.
So, instead of blaming a flag for racism, perhaps people need to actually stop blaming and start fixing.
I have rights now. I can own property, vote, be educated, choose not to marry if I want to. I don’t need to blame a man.
Minority groups have laws that protect them, organizations that fight for them, and a history to blame for the treatment of their ANCESTORS. But, those folks didn’t struggle and die just so that racism would continue but to make the lives of their descendants better.
To quote MLK, Jr. in his “I have a dream” speech:
“…I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation. Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize [a] shameful condition. In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s Capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check; a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.’ But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges. But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “for whites only.” We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.”
And, then he puts aside his written speech and speaks from the heart when he continues with, “I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.’
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, that one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exhalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.
With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning, ‘My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrims’ pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.’
And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that; let freedom ring from the Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!'”
If Dr. King was alive today, what would he say? Would he blame the flag? Or, would he blame the people? Would he encourage society to find a middle ground? Would he point out our failure and short-comings?
So here is my plea, a suggestion of sorts.
Dear American public,
I don’t see you as a color, a gender or a race. I don’t disparage people based on their religion, or lack thereof. I don’t see you and want to take away everything from you. I also won’t take the blame of people who lived before me. I will not be labeled by society because of my race, I will not be handicapped because of my gender and I will not be held back because of my religion.
Therefore, the emotion of this flag– the symbol of Dixie, the antebellum life of slavery and plantations, of hoop skirts and gentlemen on horses, slaves tirelessly laboring in the fields while their masters profited– needs to be eradicated. You don’t have to burn a flag to remove its power over you. You don’t have to give it the authority to make you feel less than who you are.
In 2015, what have we accomplished? In the 60-something years since the Civil Rights movement, what has changed? Has it changed? Yes. It has. We have momentary lapses in judgment, but it has changed. What hasn’t? The generational expectation that society owes you something for what happened to people over 150 years ago. The generational bitterness over not being white or the embarrassment of being white. Either way, whichever way you view this or not, understand that we are the captains of our destiny. That does not mean attacking ALL police because a few are excessive and abusive. That does not mean that ALL authority needs to be disregarded, stores must be looted and burned, that people should be afraid. What we have now, that perhaps we didn’t have 150 years ago is this…
A fresh, new perspective.
We have rested and taken a few steps back and now have the opportunity to look at the events of modern society with new eyes. We can compare it to the past, see what worked and what did not and make change. Isn’t that what Pres. Obama promised, change?
Stop blaming things, people, the past.
Stop being angry about things that can be fixed.
Stop pointing your fingers and start helping society heal, change, and be fixed.
And, maybe in another century, our descendants can look back and say, “job well done.”