What Is Heritage Really: The Confederate Flag Argument

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“Is it about segregation or self-sustainability?”

Throughout the United States history, the Confederate flag has long been a subject of a lot of debates. What does this flag truly mean? Some say it is the flag that is representation of people who wanted to keep slavery going; in addition to the fact they lost the war.  Others state that it is a representation against the government not allowing the southern regions to express the freedom of the states. Then you have the those who are more overt that feel it is segregation and proud of it. I myself have views on what the Confederate flag means and why people still today fly it with pride.

In my view of what the Confederate flag means, I first try to look at the side of people who are for the flag. All throughout my own life I have heard the words pride. People state that, “It’s not racism, it’s heritage.” Now I have disagreed, but as a rational thinker I have to understand what it is before showing resentment myself. So I observe the history of the south. At the height of not only slavery, but Jim Crow, the south was the dominant region. You could almost say, if not for the most part, it’s what built the United States. Toward the end of slavery, America was the wealthiest country in the world, and it came in part because of the strong leadership of the men who built and maintained the Confederacy. (We’ll come back to the slavery aspect later).

Not only did these men lead the Confederacy, you could almost say they have taken the blame for keeping slavery going. In their defense, they would say yes we did, but the north benefited as well, if not more. To call these men in the south a bunch of hillbillies who hated African Americans was just inaccurate. Especially considering it’s what provided so much economic stability for the country that gave the men up north their power positions. Not only that, but Confederates wanted to express their own freedom of the places in which they dwelled. They felt, “We have our own government, our own self-sustaining economy, our own trade deals.” “Why should we be forced to conform to the North’s way when we obviously can have our own state.

Well this is where the idea of racism comes into play. That strong leadership, that strong economy, that strong self-sustaining system was due to African Americans being held against their will. Slavery kept the machine motors running. But in today’s society, people fly the flag and say it’s not hatred, it’s heritage. Tough to say considering the subjugation is what kept the system strong. How I see the matter, is if the Confederates would have been told, “Fine, keep your system, keep your flag, keep your everything.” “But, you can not hold these group of people against their will.” “We are not saying you’re forced to employ them or give them anything, but they are no longer held to service you.” There still would have been resistance in telling these men how to run their region of the country.

And that is what makes the heritage argument so difficult for me to understand. Because I have always asked the question, what is heritage really? It’s tough for people to explain because keeping the power was keeping Black people against their will. Now had the Confederates have said fine, we’ll free them, but we want our own system from here on out in the south. We want our own power base. Meaning our own trade deals, currency, farming techniques, government structure, and so forth. Had they have done this, the resistance would or course be there. Hell, I might even disagree, just off of the fact that we would have a split nation, but then I could to a great degree remove the slavery aspect.

And that is what makes the topic so divisive. I’m sure there are people who fly the flag as a symbol of wanting more freedom of state, or even in rebellion against our current system’s policies. But the fact remains that the men who fought so hard “did” want to keep slavery going. They “did” want to hold a group of people against their will. And whether you want to believe it or not they “were” bigoted and lost the war. So today in the year 2016 is that the case, I can’t say for sure. But in that time period it “was” about slavery as well as a symbol fighting desegregation in the south during Jim Crow.

Do We Really Have Nothing To Lose

Donald Trump made a statement recently in his effort to gain the African American vote. “What do you really have to lose?” That is a very interesting question considering we are in the process of choosing a new president coming off of the nation’s first Black president. Black president where there was so much optimism in the environment. The feeling of our work is complete and maybe, this is the beginning for what is going to be the first step in moving forward. Moving forward from the past few centuries of harsh treatment, segregation, discrimination, ostracism; in a country that is suppose to be the land of the free. Everything looked optimal; the present and the future.

Or at least that is what Black people thought. The last 8 years of Barack Obama’s political career as president didn’t feel like much of a change. Don’t get me wrong, the energy that got him elected was so powerful, you felt this new feeling in America. It was as if the past never even happened. His first election was one of the best ran presidential processes in American history. Obama checked off all the boxes: Black, White, Latino, East Asian; Young and Old; Heterosexual and LGBT; Poor and Wealthy; High school diplomas and PhDs; Male and Female; and Cops, National Guard, and US Military.

But as I sit here I go, what has actually changed. All presidents have some sort of policy, but when I say change, I don’t mean just policy. What happened to the internal change, that social change? What about the employment situation? How about the race relationships? In Obama’s second term, the race relations popped up multiple times throughout the years. A lot of which had to do with law enforcement in the Black community. Along with a high crime rate in major inner cities, mainly Chicago, his home base. Or how about lack of support to impoverished areas in America which has hit mainly Black families. Now I go back to Trump’s comment, “What do you really have to lose?”

Do we; could our lives be any worst as Black people? I mean look at history for a moment. Transatlantic Slavery, Jim Crow, Heroin, Welfare, Powder Cocaine, Crack Rocks, High Crime Stats, Poor Education, and lack of employment opportunities. Not to mention a whole host of other issues related to our health in the Black community. So I say, for just one moment, what if he won? What would happen if we voted Trump over Hilary? For starters, Black people would see immediately that Hilary doesn’t care. Oh trust and believe, she would remember this one. Second of all, from the moment he is sworn in, then what. Are we moved to the side, shipped out the country, or killed. My guess is neither, Black people are nearly $3 trillion of America’s $17 trillion. You can’t lose those domestic dollars, any economist will tell you that is suicide. And if so, our White men and women prepared break their backs for each other to pick up the lose. Meaning become even more of slaves to the system just to make the system better, not necessarily their lives better; I say no.

Now, this is a hypothetical to the highest degree. Why because removing an ethnic group is indeed suicide, especially nearly 20% of the country’s economy. So what for us, what do we do. Could he maybe provide the change that the Obama administration couldn’t? If he did, how would that shift the vote for elections to come? Can you imagine Black people becoming better off under Trump than Obama or any other Democrat. I don’t think he will win because the push to keep him out is too strong. Bu if he did, maybe he’ll be just as status quo as the rest; business as usual. Comments have been flying as to whether is was racially charged regarding his comments to Black people. It sound to me like he was saying, “Hey, I may not have a plan to benefit you, but if you do better than you are now, it’s a home run.” That just isn’t promising enough, not just for us, but the country as well.

Whatever the case may be, Trump has touched on something that could make this election go in a lot of directions. Like I said, I don’t think he will win, but wouldn’t shock me if he did. Only time will tell as we move closer and closer toward the general election.

BLUE CODE, BLACK CODE

“Will it ever end?”

It has ben a little over 5o years since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 48 years since the Civil Rights Act of 1968. And I ask the question, how much has really changed since the 1960’s. And I am not just speaking of the laws, but a relationship. A relationship between two groups of people who have shared land with each other spanning a total of 300 plus years. Yet the relationship between the two is still polarizing. And what do I mean by the two groups; I’m speaking of Black and White Americans.

Let’s start with the term White and Black Americans. I focus on this first and foremost because these two colors have been used as more of a social construct rather than a real ethnic focus. In this country we like to place emphasis on skin color, not to promote diversity, but it’s almost as if we use this to designate enemies. This is why the whole idea of radical Islam terrifies people because you really can’t put a face to the belief. But in the case of Black and White, where does this fragmented relationship come from.

I ask this question because there has been yet again another shooting of a Black male this time in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Now you’ll get some Black people on one side that say he disobeyed the police orders. And on the other side, you’ll get a few White men and women that will be on the side of the Black male shot. But for the most part Black will say innocent Black male was shot and Black Lives Matter, White will say do as you’re told and Blue Lives Matter.

I tend to believe that this reaction is more than just a coincidence. In addition, as much as the media places emphasis on this issue, it goes deeper than the television or internet. My belief is that racial bickering (and when I say race I’m not talking human race, but race socially), comes from how this country was designed. Black and White fighting isn’t the failure of America, but it’s actually the success of what the building of this country was intended for in the beginning.

To better gauge why the two ethnic groups still differ we must look at the beginning and work our way forward. In the early 1600’s, there were an original few Africans brought to what is now the United States as Indentured Servants. What does that mean? That means that they had to serve for a small period of time, serve meaning labor. After that time period was up, the indenturee was not bound by the indenture. Now what’s interesting is that there were White men and women bound to the same indentured servitude. The only problem is that the market viewpoint was that Africans were cheaper. Because slavery was coming to fruition. This meant that the Europeans who were indentured were not held forever and it was merely choice. Why invest money in them when there is a system of forced labor against ones’ will taking hold? Economically it made since, so White indentured servitude declined, while Blacks in slavery increased.

All throughout slavery, the relationship was outlined and accepted. Blacks were the underlings who served and bowed to Whites. The Whites were the masters who enforced their will and beliefs. Even the poorest of White men and women in America were still above the Blacks. Very important this previous sentence.

Why was that sentence so important about poor Whites being above Blacks. This is why. Once slavery ended, there was a lot of animosity. Not just at the idea of Black people being freed, but at the Union from the Confederate South. Confederates saw the Civil War as nothing more than a way to cripple the south and not about freeing Black people held against their will. Also very important because Abraham Lincoln himself owned slaves, yet they were not freed even with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Now how does this all fit into poor Whites.

Well after slavery, at least being White meant they had an upper hand over Blacks. But with slavery over now there is this feeling of, “really.” “You mean to tell us we are no better than them.” Factions of Whites broke off, mainly individuals still with a bitter taste over the war and the freedom of slaves. From this you have such organizations like the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan that born and rapidly spread. We see them today as a group of poor angry White men and women who can’t get over the past. But what we must realize is that in their heyday, these men and women had power, so much power that they could politically influence the presidency.

Yet, that too came to pass with the signing of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968. Once again, another monumental documentation that left mixed feelings not only from White people, but Black as well. Keep this in mind about Black people getting angry. We will discuss this later in detail as to why Black people might be upset about the ending of Jim Crow. As for now, with the ending of Jim Crow, there was also another problem brewing. This problem was something no one saw coming. That was the issue of narcotics entering the Black community. After Jim Crow ended, prosperity looked promising, but instead there was an era of drugs and crime taking shape in Black communities nationwide. Mixed with the lack of jobs and various other opportunities post Jim Crow, young Black males turned to selling drugs as a way into generating an income.

Well you ask yourself, what about all those good Black fathers? Around this time another problematic systemic policy took hold in the Black community, and that was the welfare system. A policy that doled-out government funding to working poor mothers. The catch was the father couldn’t be present. So now you have narcotics, fatherless homes, and young boys with no guidance. This was a perfect recipe for disaster. This was an in, an in for what would be described as a new era of Jim Crow relationships.

Law enforcement was brought into the equation, and not just any. Cities like Los Angeles and Oakland recruited police preferably from southern cities who had experience dealing with Black people. Note how I said experience with dealing with Blacks. This was not a very good relationship and would create a new host of problems. After heroine hit from the late 1960’s to the late 1970’s, powder cocaine in the 1970’s into the 1980’s came next. From the 1980’s into the 1990’s a new drug hit called Crack Cocaine. So here you go, young Black males with absentee parents, policed by predominantly White male cops, and both having views of each other over throughout history already. Black males finding themselves growing up in the middle of gang and drug zones and police who didn’t discern between those who were criminal and those who weren’t. 

This all brings us to today. With the recent shootings from the police we ask ourselves, what’s the end game. There seems to not be one because every time it seems the White, Black relationship is getting better something else pops up. But remember when I said after Jim Crow, there were Black and Whites upset. Well for the Black people who were upset you look back. Blacks had their own schools, hospitals, banks, small businesses, and host of other jobs during segregation. Fast forward to today, and it seems things are worst now. So in a way there seems to be this discontent feeling. Maybe ending Jim Crow was a bad idea considering we had our own stuff then. Once we became equals we relinquished a lot and became fragmented.

Whatever the case may be, with this latest shooting, it seems like that clock has been set back yet again. From my understanding, it has to do with a feeling. To change people’s mindset, you have to change sentiment. That is a lot harder to do. How do you get Black and White people on the same page? You have to eliminate the terms White and Black from the American psyche. So much so that when a Black or White person look at each other we see American, and not a hue. How do you do that in a country where we have been made to feel like opposites for so long. I wish I knew; I truly wish I knew.