Experiencing a Confederate America as an African American

Confederate states and flags are literal symbols of racism and white supremacy. The Civil War happened in 1861 yet we still have Confederate flags waving in front of city buildings and statues of Confederate soldiers standing tall and proud. There are 31 states that feature the Confederacy but only 11 states were initially in the Confederacy. Many white southerners say that the Confederate memorabilia isn’t about slavery, even though it actually is.

During the Civil Rights Movement and Jim Crow segregation, southern states built statues and hung flags as a way to intimidate African Americans.

The statues weren’t put up to mourn the loss of soldiers, they were put up to glorify the soldiers’ values and beliefs. The statues are glorifications of the causes of the Civil War. There is virtually no “southern pride” incorporated with the Confederacy. The strange thing is, why would you have pride in something that lost terribly?

I have been to many schools all around Missouri. The school that really stuck out to me was the school I went to my sophomore year, Fulton High School. On the first day of school, the first thing I saw a caucasian boy wearing a belt buckle with a Confederate flag and dirt-stained boots that had heels decorated with red, white and blue.

As an African American, I was alarmed. I thought to myself, “Where am I?” I hadn’t seen a Confederate flag in real life before.

In Fulton, they were everywhere. Confederate flags were sold at convenience stores and in my government class, we were taught to remember the accomplishments and nobleness of Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee. It’s like the class ignored the blatant racism the Confederaty represented and that its flag still represents.

I felt targeted and threatened going to that school. Girls would get dress coded for wearing a sheer top but others were allowed to wear shirts, hats and accessories that embodied hate. I will never forget the time an African American girl wore a “Black Lives Matter” shirt and was told to change by the vice principal for wearing a shirt that “offended” others.

In more recent news, the Confederacy is being called out for what it is. Many statues and flags are being taken down but some right wing activists are fighting to keep the statues up and are willing to kill. Just ask the white supremacists from Charlottesville.  

Luckily, progress is being made because of the issues that occurred in Virginia. Instead of more statues and flags being put up, statues and flags are being taken down.

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