With the recent events that have occurred, much talk has risen on the symbolic meaning of the Confederate flag. The riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, is the most recent outburst from the alternative right to fight for their right to illegitimate the rights of others. The Confederate flag was a common symbol used at the protest to identify who they are as a group. However, there are many others who stand behind the flag claiming there are no ties to racist beliefs when raising the flag that fought for slavery.
The tragedy that happened this week was not the first in today’s society to spark conversation on the Confederate flag. Two years ago, a shooting in Charleston, South Carolina began the discussion on the controversial flag in today’s world. On June 17th, 2015, an armed white supremacist walked into Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and opened fire on the men and women there for service. Dylann Roof killed nine people and injured one. He was later sentenced to death. After this horrific act, many people rallied behind the idea that the Confederate flag should be lowered at the South Carolina State House and the movement worked then lowering the flag.
Many people today take pride in the flag by plastering it to their bumper whether that be by a sticker of the whole flag itself. Some states even have the option of getting your license plate with the design on it. A lot of these people don’t claim themselves to be racist, but then continue to flaunt the flag.
The argument typically consists of whether you can look at the flag through the lens of heritage and omit the slavery that was once fought for underneath it. Now the symbol might not be as popular today if it weren’t for the 1940’s and 1950’s when fascism spread and the Klu Klux Klan used the flag as a symbol of opposition in the face of the civil rights movement according to professor Matthew Guterl of Brown University.
In his interview with The Washington Post, he goes on to say that “When people say ‘heritage not hate,’ they are omitting the obvious, which is that that heritage is hate.” There is absolutely nothing wrong with having pride in your heritage. Which parts of your heritage you choose to emphasize however says a lot about a person. The South has many amazing attributes, but its racist background is not one.
It is extremely important to understand the message this sends to people of color. Flying the flag, having roads named after Confederate generals, and idealizing oppressors with statues is a disrespectful slap in the face to many. It gives the message that the south is still holding onto its separation; in both ways. It’s time to start acting as one race instead of many “breeds.” America is known for being a home to any race but as of right now it isn’t feeling very homey.