The Distractions of Laws and Flags

...What’s even more puzzling for me is the logic that decides that marriage is a good ‘first step’ when considering the struggles queer people face today. It seems to me that the first step in making change should be about addressing issues that need urgent, immediate fixes: say, for example, people literally being killed. That’s at the least the logic that I think most people would apply to other kinds of ‘change’ they would want to see. If for instance, there are bunch of renovations you want to make in your house, my guess is most people would decide to first fix their leaky plumbing rather than change their wallpaper. The former might be harder and more expensive and not actually that noticeable once it’s done, but it’s something that needs to happen because it threatens the entire house. You need that for the whole thing to work. To potentially over-extend this metaphor, changing the wallpaper first might be great as a noticeable, tangible change, but it becomes less than productive if your shiny new wallpaper makes you forget that your house had a bunch of other problems too.

The lasting effect of Dylann Roof’s terrorist attack on nine African American women and men at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church now looks likely to be the removal of the Confederate flag from public display. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has called on the state legislature to strike the flag from the state’s capitol grounds. Elected leaders elsewhere, as well as major corporations, have all begun to “divest” themselves of symbols of the Confederacy, a century and a half after the Civil War ended.

Their actions are merely diversions. They are addressing the least important cause of Roof’s racist murder spree. Focusing on flags and monuments draws our attention from the hard work that is required to reduce the burden of racism in American society. And the public’s attention span is so very short that I wonder how many people will care after the flag frenzy passes and the nine funerals are over.

I wanna make a bet.

I wanna bet that in forty years, ALL of the idiots who currently say that "racism doesn't exist" and that POCs are "pulling the race card" will inevitably turn to their grandchildren, give a condescending pat on their backs and will say,

"You kids have it easy! Back in MY GENERATION, we elected a Black president, we fought against police brutality, and we restored equality in America! Oh yes, I was RIGHT THERE in the thick of it all, standing with the Blacks and Asians fighting "the man!" Yup, aren't you proud of your grandpa for standing up against racism?!"


I do, however, want to give a shout-out to the Alabama Governor who just executive-ordered four Confederate flags down. The massacre didn't even happen in his capital city. Meanwhile, Miz Nikki Haley's still talking that "debate" bullshit with her constituents, waitin' on them to reach a three-fifths - sorry - two-thirds consensus.



  1. Focusing on flags and monuments draws our attention from the hard work that is required to reduce the burden of racism in American society. And the public’s attention span is so very short that I wonder how many people will care after the flag frenzy passes and the nine funerals are over.

    One could say that electing a Black President effectively ended racism as we know it. That the wheels of progress (although woefully slow) meander in such a fashion as to make change inevitable. America could finally live up to its creed, that all men are created equal. We would be a shining beacon to those who still stumble in the night. The torch-bearing arm of Lady Liberty stretched out towards the oppressed, beckoning with silent lips:

    "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door! ” .

    That would be our hallmark. Yet, even as our benevolent mother suckled refugees from abroad, she showed little regard for the descendants of slavery cleaving to her hem. Abandoned and alone we fended for ourselves as best we could. Much like a Mother’s milk we were denied the life-sustaining liberty afforded to so many others, laboring under the shared delusion that one day, "Change was gonna come." Course it would be several decades before the fruit of our hopes became reality.

    And yet somehow, lowering the articles of hate still leaves an aftertaste that tells Poc something’s amiss. The kind of bitterness on the tongue that tells you right away, This is not what egalitarianism tastes like. This is some form of artificial sweetener meant to placate us. And although the standards of oppression are being lowered, the hidden parts of racism (much like the roots of the flagpole it hangs on) extend deep into the ground, embedded firmly within the bedrock: irrevocable and immovable. Invisible to the naked eye maybe, but People of Color know.

    There are Connoisseurs who can tell you the type (country- or region of origin), the approximate age, and the designation of a wine from just a few sips. So it is with Racism’s savor. Only those who have been forced to drink the bitter grape can truly appreciate its vinosity. Poc know a Diversion when we see, touch… hear and taste it, and we are not amused.

    1. How do you feel about the forgiveness factor? The media rushed to make a huge friggin' deal about that.

    2. "How do you feel about the forgiveness factor? The media rushed to make a huge friggin' deal about that."

      Three words came to mind. The Other Foot.

      In Bradbury’s eyes Willie’s hatred of whites threatens to engulf his humanity, turning him into the very thing he’s despised. But what Bradbury can’t possibly know is what Jim Crow does to the spirit of a man; therefore, how can he truly fathom Willie’s heart?

      Throughout our history we’ve always been asked to be the better person. No matter the cruelty, no matter the many torts committed against us. We're asked, “to overlook it this time.” “Don’t pay them any mind,” “You’ll have to forgive my friend (the racist), he's an asshole.” This inequitable give-and-take has existed since Reconstruction, primarily because Privilege means never having to say you’re sorry.

      Christianity obliges the faithful to forgive in the hope that their oppressor will come to themselves and repent. (We forgive so that we can be forgiven: seventy times seven if need be). Yet, it’s been over 400 years with things remaining pretty much the same. Whites can’t change in and of themselves, for racism is too engrained. Therefore forgiveness is profitable Only in that it releases us from the animosity that would otherwise devour us, or temp us to seek revenge.

      But just because the articles of oppression and hatred were destroyed in war, it doesn't mean racism was eradicated from the hearts of the people. Just because the landmarks of bigotry were laid to waste doesn't mean its precepts and beliefs weren't written in the hearts of whites for safe keeping. You don’t just forgive that easily and you don't come to trust so soon. Willie of all people would know that.

      As you can gather from my rant, forgiving may be the Christian thing to do, but it’s not necessarily the Secular thing to do. In this case (and we seen it many times before), Forgiveness of this nature can only feed into the white fantasy: because the only other alternative is chaos.


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