By: Beverly Dines – Senior, Education
Recently, my boyfriend and I went to Gettysburg to see the land upon which men fought for their beliefs. Seeing the place where so many died for their ideals was haunting. But, it had me thinking about the controversy surrounding the Confederate flag today.
The Confederate flag removal is getting out of hand, spreading beyond the flag itself. Yes, it is a symbol of hate, and yes, it was used as a tool to undermine and intimidate African-Americans and yes, it needs to be removed from government buildings, but removing statues and historic symbols of the Civil War is not OK. You can’t learn from history if you erase it.
Scores of men died fighting for what they believed in and although they lost, erasing them disrespects those families and their memory. Not every Confederate was a racist and not every Union soldier was an anti-slavery activist. By erasing history, you desensitize people to how we got to where we are, no matter how gruesome it is. It is important to see these statues, to go to these historical sights, so we don’t repeat history. People need to take less time being on the offensive or defensive and, instead, take more time to listen.
In my experience, to the majority of African-Americans, the Confederate flag is considered a symbol of hate. End of story. Debating that fact won’t make it untrue. What will push us forward is understanding and respect, not hostility. If you want to wear, flaunt and carry that flag, go for it. We live in a free country. But understand what it means to certain groups.
When I see a Confederate flag, I shudder because I know that was often the last thing my relatives saw before they were beaten or killed—because that’s our history. A Confederate flag was the last thing my great-great-uncles saw before they were dragged out of their house in the night and lynched
You can look up countless stories that predate this article as evidence. Debate it all you want, but saying African-Americans need to “get over it” or “calm down” is disrespectful to a large group of people who are still suffering from repercussions of its use to this day. Saying something isn’t a symbol of hate because you don’t believe it to be is irresponsible and insensitive. This is history, folks. The only way, and I repeat ONLY way, we can learn from it is if we understand both sides and respect the differences just as the similarities. We’re on this planet to learn from each other. Let’s start listening.
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