The Confederate Flag is a Red Herring

The outrage about the flying of the confederate flag over the South Carolina statehouse has been refueled and re-furled after the horrific shooting and hate crime committed at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.


I don’t care whether they take this flag down or not.  Because this symbol is not the reason for America’s racial issues.   America’s soul is the issue.    Whether we know or acknowledge it our nation is suffering from a wounded soul.   One that will never heal until we face, head on, our history with racial injustice.

It is difficult to have conversations that uncover discomfort, shame and guilt.    But putting a salve on our collective souls cannot begin until we engage in this sustained dialogue.   It will make us hurt.  It will test our hearts.  It will make some of us hunker down in our prejudices and fear.    Transformation is difficult and attitude change is a daunting task.  For 150 years we’ve changed laws, changed policies and enforced new behaviors.  I’m grateful for the changes.  But only confronting the core of our beliefs, self-reflection and an openness to understand how we benefit from change can truly set us free from bigotry and its residuals.

In the short term, taking down walls, fences, signs, and flags can make us feel good.  But the work of racial healing cannot be successful through surface acts.  In the long run we must go past the color of skin and flags.  Go deeper to view our soul’s hue.

I mourn the loss of nine souls.  And the irreparable damage to the lives of their loves ones.

2 thoughts on “The Confederate Flag is a Red Herring

  1. I totally agree with you, my friend , but I do hope the flag comes down. I was at the SC State House on MLK’s birthday in 2008, and it was horrifying to see a symbol of pro-segregation flying while celebrating Dr. King’s life and legacy. I keep hoping the next generation is more understanding, more accepting, more loving. and then someone (or more than one) who is of that generation has enough hatred in his heart and confusion in his mind to kill nine innocent, loving people who had accepted him into their Bible study. I shake my head and cry.

  2. Thanks for writing this blog, Cheryl. While I agree that the confederate flag is only a small issue of the much larger picture, I believe it should be taken from the flag poles and placed in museums. There are so many dialogues so many of us need to begin with each other, but before the dialogues take place we need to see and believe the evidence that we are ready for those talks. The confederate flag symbolizes the intransigeance of those who are not willing to confront our country’s ugly truths. The flag stands for the stubborn refusal to admit gross wrongdoings against countless people. We know the horrors that occurred in Nazi Germany. Do we condone Americans flying the swastica filled flag? It’s against the law to display that symbol in Germany. It should be against the law to fly the confederate flag in our country.

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