The Confederate flag has been all over the news lately after some nobody white supremacist with a dumb name shot and killed, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Rev. Sharonda Singleton, Myra Thompson, Tywanza Sanders, Ethel Lee Lance, Cynthia Hurd, Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, and Susie Jackson . I don’t really know what I can say that hasn’t already been said, but I’ll try to find something.

The Confederate flag has to stop flying on public buildings, and should be removed from state flags wherever it remains. It is a flag that represents southern history, but I don’t know why people would want to be reminded of that history. It’s the history of treason, slavery, and oppression. It is a slap in the face to members of the community who have ancestors who were slaves, grandparents or parents who had to live in the Jim Crow South; history that is an embarrassment to the Nation. My belief that it has to go became stronger after reading that it didn’t even start flying in South Carolina until 1961 as a reaction to desegregation policy. That even further ties it into racial issues. Let it go, it represents a shameful past.

That being said, removing the Confederate Flag isn’t going to change anything. The problem is, removing a symbol never removes what that symbol represents. It is easy to get angry at a symbol, it is easy to want that symbol removed, and people who are angry and want it removed are right to feel that way, but I fear a lot of people who are enraged at the flag still being up, once it comes down, clap their hands and say, “well my work here is done. ” I’m not one to jump straight to Nazis so I’ll go there third, first it would be like a former colony of Great Britain still flying the Union Jack , it would be like South Africa still flying the flag of Apartheid era, it would be like Germany flying the Nazi flag. Just because it represents your past does not mean it needs to be embraced; a lot of times our past is terrible. But, there are still Nazis in Germany, there are still racists in South Africa, there is an extremely racist British National Party , those ideas never went away with the flag.

Removing the Confederate flag is a needed and good gesture but that’s all it is. It’s a gesture. Flags only hold the weight we put into them. You burn a flag with a picture of a flower on it and no one cares, you burn the American flag and people lose their minds. They are both just nylon with colors on them, but we as a society have decided that the nylon with colors in the shape of the American flag have meaning, and nylon with the colors in the shape of a flower don’t. What removing the flag does not do, is fix racism, it does not fix the very real institutionalized racism that America is still dealing with. Right now we have more blacks behind bars than were slaves during the Civil War. 1 in 3 black men can expect to spend time in jail during their lifetime. Black offenders when they are convicted receive sentences that are 10 times longer than their white counterparts. Black students face harsher and more frequent penalties in schools. Wages for black ex-convicts rise 21 percent slower than for white ex-convicts. Removing the Confederate flag while a nice gesture does not even being to address the real problems of racism in this country. The flag will come down because politicians in both parties in those states and nationally are calling for it. It will fade from public buildings, but everything that flag represents will be right where it was. None of that is to claim that institutionalized racism is just a southern problem, that is a national problem.

Lastly, you cannot tell people they aren’t allowed to fly it on their private property. You can’t do it. You can’t ban stores from selling it, they can choose to stop on their own will like Wal-Mart and Sears have done, but you can’t regulate that. As much as it may drive you crazy, people have a right protected by the First Amendment to fly any such flag they wish on their private property, and wear any such flag they wish on their clothing. Freedom of speech and expression covers speech and expression that you disagree with, that’s just how it is. We put a lot of value in symbols and we love attacking symbols and sometimes that distracts us from real issues. Institutionalized racism still exists and will continue to exist and we need to bring that to the forefront..

Side note, we never talk about Native Americans . I’m sure they hate having to see the American flag everywhere they go. Why don’t we ever care about them? Every time a Native American group speaks out, we just straight up ignore them. We don’t even take them seriously when they get pissed about being lampooned on sports uniforms. I think we should start bringing them into racial discussions and start thinking of them as a serious group of people instead of just a fictional set of characters from John Wayne movies.

Lastly again, I don’t want to hear any, “ uhh well actually it’s not the Confederate flag, it’s the Confederate battle flag, the Confederate flag is completely different. I mean it looks exactly the same but it has more white on it.”

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