Op-Ed: Is it right to ban Confederate flag purchases?

Op-Ed: Is it right to ban Confederate flag purchases?

Op-Ed: Is it right to ban Confederate flag purchases?

Nine black men and women dead. In a church. In South Carolina, a state that still values the Confederate flag and flies it at their state capital building. Who gunned these nine black men and women down? The answer is alarming but expected: a supposedly “psychotic” white man.

Over the past few weeks, the massacre that overwhelmed South Carolina has provoked much racial tension amongst many Americans. This racial tension has escalated to a point where many are questioning the relevance of the present existence of the Confederate Flag. Several major retailers, online and in-stores, from Etsy to Walmart have banned the purchase and selling of the Confederate flag – a flag that reminds many of the dark, prejudiced days prior to Civil War- according to Her Campus. Each retailer has indicated that it doesn’t want to “glorify hatred” and the Confederate Flag does so.

However, was it the right move for these retailers to ban these Confederate Flags permanently?  

I would like to heartily say, yes, it was the right move for them. Whilst the Confederate Flag represents Southern pride and demonstrates the slow progress towards equality America has endured, it also reminds many, especially the blacks, that their ancestors were enslaved and weren’t considered “real individuals”. It encourages some Caucasian Southerners to be proud of the dark, prejudiced past that continuously ricochets through the South: the fight to maintain white supremacy. Banning, abolishing and removing this flag may represent the first step Southern states take towards the acknowledgement of their dark history and their acceptance that this dark history is over. The days of equality have arrived.  

This is why the ban of the purchase of the Confederate Flags online and in-stores becomes so important. Etsy, Walmart, Sears and many other major retailers are prominent American chains that are accessed by a diverse group of Americans daily. Want a certain laptop cover? Try Etsy. Want to buy a beautiful dress? Try Sears.

By abolishing the sales of these Confederate Flags, these major retailers are actually acknowledging the sensitive racial dialogue that exists today and inconspicuously persuading many to follow their suit. They’re encouraging many to drive past the gates of racism, color binaries and white supremacy towards a world of equality.

Even though some might comment that these retailers have banned the flags purely to ensure their sale levels by various ethnic American groups aren’t affected, these majors retailers quick decision to solve the good old problem with the South indicates that they’re following the main conversation that is flowing through many Americans mind: It’s time to change our cultural relationship with this flag.

African-American comedian and actress, Jessica Williams’ response to the removal of the Confederate Flag makes it immensely clear why these retailers’ decisions to kick the flag out of their stores are prominent, right, current and just. On the Daily Show, Williams confidently said, “ If we’re having this much trouble removing a symbol of racism, we’re in deep dookie if we want to remove actual racism.”

Doesn’t this sound deeply chilling? If we, Americans, can’t decide whether we should remove the Confederate Flag to represent justice and equality, how can we even think of enacting laws and societies that preserve this sense of equality in the future?  America has always had to endure a tough boundary line between attempting to abolish all racist symbols and maintaining them for historic purposes. Considering the fact that these major “American” retailers prohibited the sale of the Confederate flag in America, it becomes extremely clear and concerning that its time for all of us to learn how to move forward and move on.

Our history may be rich with tales of enslavement, wars and tough boundary lines between people of many colors and nationalities. Our history may also demonstrate how we fought to gain basic equal human rights for all.

However, history is, ultimately, in “the past”. History doesn’t involve the future. It is with this understanding that I whole-heartedly agree with writer and broadcast correspondent of the Mic, Elizabeth Plank’s Facebook response to Jessica Williams quote, “ Yep. Burn that flag.”

With retailers slowly pulling out of sales of Confederate Flags, a rising time will come when citizens are no longer given the choice of incorporating a Confederate flag into their license plates in the South or raising it over their state capitol building. Pressure from prominent people and major retailers make it clear that America’s future isn’t all that dire. She’s recovering from her fall into the abyss of darkness. She really is. Etsy may be the first step to a new dialogue. However, it may also be the first step towards forcing all Americans to really think about this issue.

And that’s the whole idea. It is time for all Americans to sit down and think thoroughly on the reasons why the Confederate Flag must go. If they don’t,  America risks falling back into an abyss that may be far darker than her Civil Way days.

Dakshayani is currently a freshman at NYU, majoring in French and Journalism, with minors in German and English Literature. Raised in Malaysia and Australia, Dakshayani enjoys exploring gender roles across various cultures and meeting people who are passionate about the arts. 

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