Hurrah, South Carolina on taking your first step in taking down the Confederate flag. Its continuing presence only insults those who grieve the terrible tragedy. It belongs only in museums and text books as a dreadful reminder of an abominable past. It is not a memento of courage and sentiment as some may claim, but a memento for the cause they fought. A cause of slavery, segregation and secession.
The flag, a terrible reminder of America’s original sin, has led to a dichotomy. The flag represents a symbol of pride and tradition to one group of people while it represents a haunting souvenir of exploitation and turmoil to the other.
The pro-flag fanatics, of course, argue that the flag is a symbol of their heritage but not hate. But what they fail to comprehend is that their heritage was born out of hate. Their ancestors were mostly slave owners, not non-partisan pacifists.
So yes, taking down the flag is appreciable but no, it’s not adequate. It’s a significant moral victory. Yet, it is not enough to challenge the systemic racism affecting American society as a whole.
Kudos on taking down the flag but it’s just the beginning. You’ve just taken the first step on a seemingly never-ending ladder. The mere purge of these symbols will not solve problems of police brutality, unfair sentencing, voter suppression and educational & professional limitations that comes with being a racial minority. The reason why poverty and unemployment is more prevalent in African American communities is conspicuous and yet, we rarely talk about it.
And what about the country’s gun laws? What about access to better mental health care? Be it Bill Maher or Piers Morgan. Everyone talks about it every single time there’s such an incident and soon, we take our eyes off the issue. Fuck Charlton Heston. Fuck Ted Nugent. Fuck Chuck Norris and every other trigger-happy celebrity who act as spokesmen for the NRA. I can’t comprehend how an allegedly “non-profit” organisation can continue to wield this much influence, despite the perennial gun-related tragedies. The lack of effective gun control laws in spite of endlessly increasing gun-related incidents antagonises the victims and their poor families. While I write this piece, here’s one happening in Chicago.
Though the bill is yet to pass and let’s say it does. The scourge of income, educational and racial inequality will remain. Racism and discrimination is ubiquitous. It pervades through every system and structure. Be it the judicial system, education, health care or society as a whole.
So, taking down the flag will only remedy a symptom of a cancerous disease. To eliminate this cancer, we need to take down the system and the structures that uphold them.
We, humans, are an odd race. We let the presence of a pigment to differentiate and discriminate each other. We must stop deluding ourselves into thinking that it doesn’t exist everywhere but learn to find a solution to our individual and/or collective bias. Though the tragedy may gradually be forgotten, we must not let the plutocratic politicians and media move on to other trivial issues. We must remain alert and speak out when necessary.