The Confederate flag was first created for the army of the South that fought to preserve their right (at the time) to legally own and trade slaves in the United States. Although the American Civil War has long since ended, questionable groups, often associated with racism and hate, as well as many average people in the south continue to pay homage to the flag. The issue of the Confederate flag has been a hot button issue for years, and with the recent murders of nine African-Americans in a southern church, the debate was reignited: is the Confederate flag racist?
Well, it depends on who you talk to. Some people try to claim that anywhere that has the confederate flag for sale is racist. To African-Americans, many of whom had ancestors traded or owned as slaves, the answer is unquestionably yes. However, to those in the southern United States who has family ancestors fight and die for the South in the civil war, the answer is a little less clear. Many of them see the flag as a symbol of the sacrifices of their ancestors and believe that the flag and racism are not inherently connected. It seems like Americans really can’t decide, as recent national polls seem to show a split that’s almost 50/50 on the question.
Whether or not the Confederate flag is truly racist or not is undoubtedly a tough egg to crack, but to truly understand the flag, it’s origins and context, as well as its purpose today, are definitely important. By taking a closer look at the flag’s history, one thing is immediately apparent – that the flag existed at the time in support of slavery. The Confederate flag did not exist before the civil war, and the main issue at stake between the North and the South was the issue of slavery. Now, if we look in a modern context, I’m sure that the flag is used as more of heritage or historical item, but the question has to be asked – is there not a more suitable memento than a flag 50 percent of the country believes to be racist?
I think we can all agree that slavery – whether during the United States civil war era or any other period in history, is racist. So then, if we understand that the Confederate flag was created for the pro-slavery side of the war, it stands to reason to understand that the Confederate flag is a racist symbol. If these racist beginnings were long forgotten then it would be reasonable to consider the flag as merely a symbol of Southern history and pride today. Unfortunately, though, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and other hate groups still fly the flag and racist attacks have been associated with the flag in recent years as well. Regardless of the flag’s beginnings, evidence is clear in showing us that in modern times many of us associate the Confederate flag with white supremacy.
At the end of the day, though, banners are meant to connect many people under one banner – just as the stars and stripes unite all Americans. If your flag seriously offends 50 percent of the population and its only purpose is to show your history and pride…well, then it might be time to find a new symbol for your story and pride.