Monday, June 22, 2015

I am Angry

I am angry. I shouldn't be, because I know that I, along with everyone else, always look for the easy way out. But I am still angry, because for some reason, we have decided that removing the Confederate flag from the capitol of SC will solve our racism problem.

Look, I understand why that flag needs to come down. But it was there when I was in college, 20 years ago. And when I was in college, a KKK store, where you could buy your KKK robes and materials, was opened in a SC town near my school.

The problem will not be solved by taking down a flag. The problem will be solved when the citizens of SC, a majority of them, take down that flag by force. When the citizens no longer tolerate KKK stores and riot and protest until the store is closed. Not black citizens, ALL citizens. As long as individuals fly the flag, taking it down at the capitol is a easy gesture that solves nothing.

How many black friends do you have, dear reader? How many black friends do you connect with on a weekly basis? Look, I grew up a privileged white kid in East Tennessee, attending a private college prep school, going to a Baptist university in SC, joining a sorority. But I had black friends. Not because I'm noble, because I'm blessed.

When I was in high school, I thought the Confederate flag was cool. I didn't wear it, but I had no objections to it. And then, one day, a black friend of mine told me it was offensive. He educated me. And I listened. I didn't understand, but knowing that that flag hurt my friends was enough. I was done with it. I would never consider using it or wearing it again. My personal convictions about the symbol were irrelevant - it hurt another human.

I am extremely blessed in that, as a white middle class woman, I have been friends with people of all races, nationalities, and religions. I have broken bread with Muslims, Jews, Hindus, blacks, Asians, and members of the LGBTQ community. I consider that a huge blessing, because it has taught me compassion. And THAT is the way forward.

  • Are you opposed to homosexuality? Find someone who is not straight and befriend him/her*

  • Are you suspicious of Islam? Befriend a Muslim.

  • Are you not sure if you're racist or not? Befriend a black person. 

  • Are you convinced that doctors who perform abortions are evil? Befriend an obstetrician and ask her about abortion. 

  • Are you not sure if there are any Jewish people living in your town? Look up the synagogue (because yes, there are Jewish people in your town) and attend a service there.

Because while the Confederate flag is an undeniably important and oppressive symbol, taking it down will change nothing in YOUR life. If you are upset by the massacre in Charleston, then find a new friend, someone who disagrees with you on some major issue. Don't argue: do something fun, like have coffee or watch a TV show you both like.

The process of racial reconciliation begins with YOU.

* If you are friends with someone who has left homosexuality and become straight, that doesn't count. Mainly because s/he doesn't disagree with you any more. Find someone who is proud of her sexuality and not interested in changing to please you or God or anyone.


  1. Elaine, I love this. I've wrestled all week with why this line of thought has bothered me. I'd add if you want to understand why "Redskins" is offensive befriend a Native American to this list. Why can't we just value people and give everyone dignity and respect and a voice at the table? That is my prayer and my dream to see my children live in a country where all people have a voice and where labels are not the determining factor of ones worth or value to society.

  2. Thanks, Jessica! This has bothered me a lot too. Writing this post was very therapeutic for me. I really am so fortunate to have always had some diversity in my friendships, and I truly believe that if people just spent time breaking bread with one another (literally and figuratively), so many issues would just go away.