In a recent article, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is calling for the removal of the confederate flag from a monument in front of the Statehouse. She proposes to have the battle flag placed in a museum. Removal of the confederate flag will not improve race relations because the flag only represents a symbol of a system that continues to fuel racism.
According to the article, after Dylann Storm Roof, who murdered nine Black people at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church appeared in several photos holding confederate flags and burning or desecrating U.S. flags. In the past, a former Republican Governor David Beasley attempted to have the confederate flag removed and was hounded out of office in 1998 by the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
Since the Charleston shooting opinions on the confederate flag have changed. In Mississippi, House Speaker Philip Gunn has called for removal of the confederate emblem from the state flag. In Tennessee, both Democrats and Republicans have called for the removal of a bust of confederate general and early Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest from an alcove outside the Senate’s chambers. In addition, Wal-Mart announced that it is removing any items from its store shelves and website that feature the confederate flag.
Why is the confederate flag considered a symbol of racism?
The confederate flag is widely recognized symbol of the American south. In 1948, Strom Thurmond’s States’ Rights Party embraced the confederate flag of Northern Virginia as a symbol of defiance against the federal government. In 1956, the confederate flag was introduced to become an element of the Georgia state flag. This happened two years after the Supreme Court decision of Brown vs. Board of Education. It is thought that the introduction of this legislation was a protest against school desegregation. The flag was raised in protest at the University of Mississippi during protest against school desegregation.
Confederate flag supporters view it as a symbol of southern heritage that is a distinct cultural tradition of the southern United States from the rest of the country. Organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan use the cross to represent their values.
The Confederate flag is given the same protection from burning and desecration as the U.S. flag. It is protected from being publicly mutilated, defiled, or otherwise cast in contempt by the laws of Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina.
According to southern historian Gordon Rhea,
It is no accident that Confederate symbols have been the mainstay of white supremacist organizations, from the Ku Klux Klan to the skinheads. They did not appropriate the Confederate battle flag simply because it was pretty. They picked it because it was the flag of a nation dedicated to their ideals: ‘that the negro is not equal to the white man’. The Confederate flag, we are told, represents heritage, not hate. But why should we celebrate a heritage grounded in hate, a heritage whose self-avowed reason for existence was the exploitation and debasement of a sizeable segment of its population?
As you can see, the confederate flag represents a culture of people who hate Black people. The discussions need to begin with what strategies could have been put in place to ensure that persons such as Dylaan Roof would not hate Black people.
Many people want to blame the parents and the family for hatred and racism, but there are other institutions that embrace racism against Blacks. Schools are the main institutions that support racism against Blacks. If it were not so, we would not have the education to prison pipeline that adversely effects Blacks and minorities. If it were not so we would not have the Raccelerate Phenomenon. With a 78% White female teaching staff, it is those individuals who continue to be a support mechanism that continues to make a difficult outcome for Blacks. Removal of the confederate flag does not remove the hatred that people possesses for Blacks.
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012
Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships and Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology
“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”.
~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor
“Dr. Campbell’s Cultural Relationship Training Program is comprehensive, informative, and should be required training for all schools”
~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President