Mitchell: South Carolina moves to shed itself of symbol of ‘hurt, pain and humiliation’

SHARE Mitchell: South Carolina moves to shed itself of symbol of ‘hurt, pain and humiliation’
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The Confederate flag flies on the Capitol grounds Monday after South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley announced that she will call for the flag to be removed. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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When it comes to hate, there is no surrender.

There is only defeat.

In this instance, it took nine innocent black lives to do it.

But on Monday, we saw hatred defeated with an announcement by South Carolina’s governor that she was asking the Legislature to remove the Confederate flag from the state capitol grounds.

“The flag does not represent the future of South Carolina. …We are not going to allow this symbol to divide us any longer,” Gov. Nikki Haley said at a press conference, surrounded by a diverse group of legislators.

OPINION

Follow @marymitchellcst

After the unspeakable horror that unfolded last week at the Mother Emanuel Episcopal AME Church in Charleston, no South Carolina resident should have to gaze up at a Confederate Flag flying over a place that represents freedom and justice.

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Once the flag is gone, we should be able to see America more clearly.

As a black person, I have always been put off by people who proudly display the Confederate Flag.I understand it was once a symbol of pride for white Southerners. But even as young history student, I couldn’t understand why a symbol of the Civil War was still being embraced.

Over the years, the sight of a white man wearing a bandana with a Confederate Flag, or a license plate with the symbol, was like seeing someone walking toward me in combat boots wearing an armband with a swastika.

After all, growing up, I could place my hand over my heart and look toward the American flag and say with child-like innocence:

“One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

But there was nothing for a black child to see in the Confederate Flag but hurt, pain, and humiliation.

I don’t expect a lot of white people to understand this. But after this latest deadly assault on the black church, perhaps more of them can accept it is what it is.

I disagree strongly with those who claim the Confederate Flag is not a racist symbol. Slavery was a racist institution, and the manifestation of white supremacy.

Dylann Roof wasn’t born a racist, and a flag certainly didn’t motivate him to kill nine people. It is also true that he didn’t have to look far to validate his hate. He only had to troll the racist Internet websites.

But the fact that his hometown still clings to an enduring symbol of America’s apartheid era certainly could not have helped.

I’m aware there are a lot of young white people that fly the Confederate Flag who don’t have a racist bone in their bodies.

After all, nothing is as intriguing to young people as being perceived as rebellious.

But as Haley pointed out, “for many others the Confederate Flag is a deeply offensive symbol of a brutally oppressive state.”

Frankly, the flag should have been shipped to a museum years ago. Instead, elected officials settled on a compromise that allowed it to be kept on the grounds.

The Civil War has been over for 150 years, and whether the flag stays or goes won’t change history.

But the step South Carolina took on Monday is a big victory for the South and a balm for grieving families all over the country.

Follow Mary Mitchell on Twitter: @MaryMitchellCST

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