After the Flag Comes Down, Then What?

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Let’s get one thing straight up front–it’s time for the flag to come down.  It’s divisive, it’s hurtful, and whatever you or I or anyone might have meant by keeping or displaying it just doesn’t matter now that the Dylann Roofs of this world have chosen it as their banner.
BUT . . .
Let’s not kid ourselves, people.  Can’t y’all see what’s going on here?  Why is all the news suddenly about the flag?  Why are we letting ourselves be distracted so easily?
The flag didn’t make Dylann Roof a racist; he embraced the flag because he was ALREADY a racist.  And he didn’t whack those people over the head with a flag.  He shot them.  With a gun that was easily available to him, instantly, without any kind of waiting period, despite pending drug charges.  A gun that was small enough to easily conceal as he entered the church.  A lethal weapon that he bought with the express purpose of killing black people.
Racism motivated Dylann Roof.  But all his hatefulness would have been impotent were it not backed up with a Glock .45.
And as a country, how are we going to respond to this tragedy, this butchery in God’s house?  How are we going to make things better?  We are going to get rid of all the Confederate flags, by golly!  That will guarantee this kind of thing will never happen again!
Y’all, in the face of such horror, this is a feel-good gesture at best.  And I hope that it DOES make African-American people feel good:  make them feel heard, make them feel respected, make them feel that more change is possible.
But what I fear is really going to happen is a bunch of nothing.  The flags will come down, we will all congratulate ourselves, and we will go back to our usual way of doing things.
So what if Wal-Mart stops selling Confederate battle flags?  If they announced they were going to stop selling guns, THAT would be a step in the right direction.
It's not a flag problem (1)This post has been featured on BlogHer.  Please visit there and share it if you enjoyed it!

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  1. Vince says:

    Very well said. Senseless tragedy 🙁

  2. i blogged about the flag today, too! i do hope the flags come down but for a different reason. i agree; taking them down won’t solve anything but it’s a step in the right direction. great post!

  3. phyllis kramer says:

    Leslie, I hope you don’t mind, but I shared your article on Facebook. It was so well written, and expressed my views exactly. Thank you for this article.

  4. phyllis kramer says:

    leslie, there is a writer for the New York Social Society pages who wrote a really interesting article on Woodlawn Cemetery. Hopefully you can find it on the internet. If not, I will try to look it up aggain.

  5. Leslie as always you are spot on. The flag is a great gesture, but I’m curious to know what next. I appreciate the symbolism, but at this stage in history we are way past symbolism. Symbolism doesn’t address the institutional racism that continues to exist or the racial disparities that continue from one generation to the next.

  6. We generally blame the wrong things. I am totally against guns. I don’t feel safer around one, on the other hand.
    It is sad what is going on in the world and it is not going to be flag that will save us from it.

  7. Gunjan says:

    Its time to take a step towards making a change. I completely feel unsafe with the idea of even a toy gun and never gift or let my child play with it. I just try a bit from my side. Hopefully all of us soon resolve this issue and make this a safer place to live.

  8. Ashleigh says:

    This is a very interesting topic and I appreciate your opinion! I also think there is a major gun problem in the US. Good post!

  9. Agatha says:

    Oh the gun issues in the US sound terrible and it’s a major problem. I’m not familiar with the flag issue though so thank you for sharing. It appears to be more of a symbolic gesture to take it down; it won’t solve everything but it’s always things like this that are the first step towards progress!

  10. JcCee says:

    I agree, Leslie! We definitely have a gun problem. And I am with Yanique in being curious as to what is next.

  11. Allison (funfamily.vacations) says:

    Thanks for sharing. This was a senseless, horrible tragedy.

  12. This is an excellent post.I don’t understand why people get behind a symbol for something. The symbol doesn’t change what he did or didn’t do. You also can’t rewrite American history just to make your self feel better about a situation. thank you for sharing this. excellent post.

  13. Yes, yes, yes. Distraction is the right word. Not only are we distracted from the gun control problem but from the question of why all the hate to begin with. Why Aurora, why Columbine, why Oklahoma City, why Boston? We don’t seem to be able to get our heads around the root cause of the problem let alone how to protect citizens from the use of violence. I appreciate your honesty and your call for us to be honest. My fear is even if we do tighten our laws that make it hard to get these guns, the haters will rent a Ryder truck, pack if full of explosives and set it in a building somewhere. People will find a way to hurt and kill, But the guns laws and enforcement of them is a start, I hope.

  14. Jane says:

    Congratulations on your article feature on BlogHer. This is definitely food for thought! Great job on a very controversial and hot topic.

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