More Confederate Flags to Fall

[Content Note: White supremacy.]

Yesterday, Republican South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley promised to call for the removal of the Confederate flag from the state capitol.

In Mississippi, where the Confederate emblem is part of the actual state flag, Democratic state senator and chair of the legislature's Black Caucus Kenny Jones says he will propose legislation to remove it: "I just think it's time to change it: It's an insult, it's very offensive to all African Americans everywhere."

And Wal-Mart and Sears have announced they will no longer be selling Confederate flag merchandise. It's likely that other retailers will follow.

I'm not under the misapprehension that removing the Confederate flag from government buildings and stores will rid its image altogether. Unless it's federally criminalized, it's still going to be emblazoned on pick-up truck rear window decals, bumper stickers, t-shirts, hats, coats, belt buckles, beer koozies, and everything else conceivably emblazonable.

I'm further not under the misapprehension that removing the Confederate flag, even if from every possible public space by federal mandate, will magically eradicate the white supremacy and violent anti-blackness of which it's a symbol.

But symbols matter. Symbols convey messages, and whether those symbols are tolerated or not matters. How a culture regards those symbols communicates something about how acceptable the symbols' underlying beliefs are.

And it's not nothing to reject a symbol of racial hatred. It's not nothing for the people who are the primary targets of that hatred to not have to see that symbol over their state capitol, or embedded right in their state flag.

It's something.

And it's something for which many black Southern activists, and their allies, have been working for a very long time.

I understand the sudden political expediency, and I understand that it's not a comprehensive solution to racism, but I am happy to see this flag fall. Good riddance.

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