South Carolina Took Down The Confederate Flag — Now What?

The Confederate Flag has been removed from the South Carolina Capital: YIPPPPPPEEEE! Time to celebrate? Let’s give ourselves a moment to high-five America for getting rid of an old relic of racism that really should have disappeared over a century ago when the Civil War finally united the country after being divided by the South’s investment in maintaining slavery. Folks, there is no debate: The Civil War was about one states’ right — the right for the south to keep slaves. It’s practically impossible to pretend otherwise, if one cares to acknowledge history. But back to the high fives. I have a high five for you and for you and you, everyone gets a high five! This is an “America is finally getting rid of the Confederate Flag high-five party!

Okay.

Now let’s pat ourselves on the back. Especially the leaders at the NAACP who ensured this great victory; all of the writers who took the time out of their days to educate the public about the racist history of the Confederate Flag and their experiences with it; activists like Bree Newsome, who courageously climbed the South Carolina capital flag pole and took that damn flag down herself; and the large number of fearless citizens who agreed that a symbol of racism and white supremacy should no longer fly in the wake of the South Carolina massacre that stole the lives of nine Black church-goers who were slain in their place of worship by a white supremacist and terrorist. We should all acknowledge that bringing down the Confederate flag was a great feat.

However, one important question remains: Now that the flag is gone, what do we do about the racism that remains?

As best said by a very thoughtful Facebook friend:

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Though most public spaces have gotten rid of the flag or refuse to sell it or merchandise adorned by it, among them: Disney World, Amazon.com, ebay.com and even Sears, the continued ubiquity of the flag cannot be denied. Matter of fact, Confederate Flag sales have soared ever since retailers decided to stop selling flag merchandise and I’m certain these aren’t museums buying the symbol. It’s people who are behind these purchases. Average, normal American citizens. Many of whom have a complete disregard for the people of color who are hurt by the flag’s display. Many of whom who willingly and openly promote a system of racism that permeates every aspect of American history and its present.

We are coming upon a moment in American history where, once again, race relations are at a critical juncture. As detailed in a piece I wrote a few weeks ago, whenever there is “black progress” or push-back against white supremacy and racism, it is almost always met by White resistance and even hostility. That truism is best highlighted by the 813 percent rise in white supremacist, paramilitary groups after the election of President Obama in 2008, and marked by the increasingly spouted notion that white people and Christians are being victimized by a society that only cares to empower minorities and gays. According to a growing number of white folks, they are racially oppressed — the “new minority.” A CNN poll found 44 percent of Americans believe whites are just as much victims of racism as Blacks and minorities, and there’s been a rise in “whiteness studies” programs at universities aimed at white students who simply cannot deal with their supposed impending inferior position to minorities.

And then there are the rallies being held by whites who believe their race is being attacked, or who showed up in support of officer Darren Wilson, the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Familiar with the whole “Diversity” = White Genocide slogan? If not, just check out the comments section on my piece, 18 Things White People Should Know/Do Before Discussing Racism to catch my drift. How many Black churches have burned since the Charleston Massacre? No one is sure since finding news reports on such incidents is literally like combing through a haystack to find a needle. All Americans should be concerned by these hate crimes, as they reflect an increasingly violent, virulently racist Conservative Right. A Right that currently has the openly racist Donald Trump as its spokesperson: Yup, The Donald is currently the GOP’s number one Republican candidate according recent public polls.

We shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking these views are representative of a small, racist minority, because, in truth, whites (and even some minority people) who espouse such beliefs are a part of a rather large demographic. We should never undermine the reality that Fox News is America’s most watched cable news network; among the other aforementioned factors, such news stations and the racist ideologies they promote are prompting a rise in white fear and white hate that is most certainly hard to miss and should not be taken lightly.

Though many see the removal of the Confederate Flag as a victory, which — to some extent– it most certainly is, it also is merely a battle won in an ongoing war which will only grow more violent and dangerous as time, and the country, progresses. I caution people of color and those aligned with any fight against oppression and for Civil Rights to remain vigilant. The fight has only just begun. We must arm ourselves with information, commit to educating others and be ready to push back harder than ever.