The Confederate Flag makes me feel uncomfortable. When I see it on a vehicle’s bumper, I cringe. When I drive by one waving in front of someone’s home, I want to flee that neighborhood as quickly as possible because I worry for my safety. I wonder who lives there and what they think about people like me who are African American.
I wish my mind did not jump to these conclusions without meeting the person who owns that vehicle or lives in that home, but I cannot help but think these things because of what the Confederate Flag represents.
I do not reflect on states rights when I see the Confederate Flag. Rather, I recall a union of states that fought to maintain slavery and preserve a culture of violence, hatred, racism, and inequality.
The Confederate Flag must come down. It cannot stand proudly at southern landmarks like a badge of honor. It represents nothing positive. It does not represent pride for my family, other minorities, and those who agree that slavery, racism, and domestic terrorism are evil. The heritage it represents is one that I do not want to claim.
Certainly, we should record the Confederate Flag in text books, monographs, documentaries, and museums, but this history should not be displayed proudly at our government institutions because doing so reflects the morals of the United States of America, not only that state, that government building, or that group of citizens. A Confederate Flag that flies for any state flies for each state unified under the “Stars and Bars” that the world recognizes. What message does our nation want to send to the world? What does the flag’s preservation say about the state of race relations in our country?
Still, there is common rebuttal: What about my rights? My family’s history? My heritage? Are not these things important?
Here is my response: We live in an age in which the individual’s rights and desires are elevated above his neighbor’s. While his neighbor suffers from the painful history the Confederate Flag carries, the individual thinks only of self-preservation and legacy. What should the individual do? Should he take down the flag because he realizes it is divisive and his neighbor is in pain because of it, even if the individual’s heart does not comprehend this sorrow fully? Or, should the individual display the flag because heritage is important to him, and despite the his neighbor’s reaction, he sees nothing wrong with the flag?
The individual who loves his neighbor is willing to sacrifice his rights to be at peace with his neighbor. The individual who loves his neighbor will take down the Confederate Flag to renew accord between them because peace and restoration are of infinite value to him.