Of course, what people consider (and thus what is) the Confederate Flag is racist (as are almost all things associated with the South at that time)–symbolizing hatred by 2015-mores to its core. Any examination of political and cultural rhetoric in the South during the 1850s and 1860s and 1870s shows this, as well as uses of this flag since the 1920s. The speed and force with which people have come out en masse; articles such as this one, this one, and this one; Walmart pulling the flag; and the governor of South Carolina speaking all speak to the power of social media (as Dr. Yaba Blay says) and contemporary mores associated with modern liberalism.
My concern, however, is that the current attention around the flag is and will continue to distract from much more serious, much much internalized, much more systemic, much more institutionalized issues. Yes, the flag being removed from public, official “memorials” is a great thing and is much needed, but it just a tiny, tiny, tiny step toward what should have been done centuries ago.
- Non-White fictional characters featured in legitimate, seriously-considered roles such that POC of all ages are represented in positive ways. Representations matter because they create the impressions people have.
- A complete halt on Black Men being singled-out for “crimes” and given much harsher sentences. An end of Black Men being killed and beaten up by White people.
- Serious coverage and respect given to Black History and culture and listening to Black people.
- Required high school and/or college courses in African American Studies taught by experts.
- Serious affirmative action-like and reparations-like programs, as well as understandings of equity vs. equality. Equity is what we need. (See Ta-Nehisi Coates’s article.)
- The end of “voter IDs” and life-long disenfranchisement for people imprisoned and other tactics that function as Neo-Literacy Tests/Poll Taxes.
- The end of Republican and Tea Party racism toward President Obama.
- The end of pushing Black Men into dangerous sports in high school. Yes, football is racist.
- The end of accusing Black Women of being “welfare queens.”
- The true end of de facto and de jure discrimination, including segregation and pay inequalities.
- A recognition of the legacies of enslavement.
- The end of you-are-suffering-from-white-guilt attacks on White people who care.
- A sincere recognition that racism and White Privilege are alive.